Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Computers, Lunch & Presentations

Yesterday afternoon Elder Oveson's network connection stopped working. Which meant that he had no access to the Internet, printing, or sharing files with others. The Facilities Manager tried several different things including the switching port that his connection went through without any success. We left him still scratching his head as we headed home last night. This morning as we got to the office the network connection was still down and a majority of our work involves the Internet. Again after more frustration the FM said he will have to see if Hong Kong can help him figure it out tomorrow. Fortunately we had our laptop and the WiFi was still working, so he was able to do some of his work through that.

Today we went to lunch with Elder & Sister Leavitt, the Office Couple. They had never been in our new little Avanza so we drove. Everyone was ready for some place different and none of us had been to Fat Boys Burgers for a long time. Sister Oveson was the only one to order a hamburger, Sister Leavitt had a pork patty sandwich, Elder Leavitt had fish and chips and Elder Oveson had a mac and cheese with chicken. It was good food and even better company.

With Elder Oveson's computer limitation we spent a majority of the day working together on the various presentations that we have coming up. This week's Institute class is on Marking Scriptures. Visual aids are a must and the easiest way for us to do them is a PowerPoint presentation. We were able to get it 90+% done today. There are always minor changes as we go back through to practice for our class. We also have the Service Center Devotional training for next Tuesday most of the way done as well. Sister Oveson put some final touches on the transitions between slides to give it a little more action. Right now we are feeling pretty good about that one as well.

One thing that we see and include in our collages are ladders being carried on motos. Today's ladder on a moto is unique because it is a little ladder carried by a little person, so we figure that he must be in training. There were some beautiful and interesting skies this morning as we went on our walk. The building across from us now has most of its solid glass facing up. Of course none of the workers five stories up have any safety equipment and the scaffolding are a mixture of metal and bamboo. Finally, how do you get new bushes to their destination? On a moto, of course.  

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

ñum baay hauy? = Did You Eat Rice Yet

There is an important question we are asked frequently in Cambodia, "ñum baay hauy?" which literally means "did you eat rice yet?" Rice is served at every meal and can be purchased from many of the street vendors. It is served with a variety of side items, including pork or chicken and vegetables.

Not only is rice an important food for every meal, it is a major crop grown in this little country. Driving throughout Cambodia this time of the year the rice fields are growing tall and green in the water that has risen from the rains. This year the fields are still lacking as there has been less rain than usual.

Some of the missionaries have helped plant the rice fields, but we have not had that opportunity. We have borrowed photos from some of the other senior couples. As the rice begins to grow the plants need to be separated and spread throughout the fields, and the roots pressed into the mud under the standing water.

Battambang is known for growing some of the best rice in the world. The drought has left many rice fields cracked and dry this year. We pray for the rains to fall that the people in this land may have enough to grow the crops that are essential to supporting their families for another year.

Today Elder Robert William, an Area Seventy from India, was visiting from India and provided training in the service center devotional. We spent time on our PowerPoint presentation for next week's devotional, as well as working on our Institute lesson for this Saturday which is turning into another PowerPoint presentation.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Getting To Know Elder & Sister Curtis

Three months ago Elder & Sister Curtis arrived as new MLS (Member & Leader Support) Missionaries. The same day that they arrived they were off to their new area and home in Kampong Cham. Most of the Senior Missionaries are right here in Phnom Penh so it is pretty easy to catch up and get to know them, but with the Curtises being out in the kaits, we have not spent any time with them. This morning Elder Curtis showed up at our office while his wife was getting her hair done, with some question about where to find certain products around town. That gave us the chance to invite them to go out to lunch today. We ended up at one of our favorite places, Mama's New York Deli. The Curtises have lived in Sandy Utah, up by Alta View Hospital, for the last thirty plus years. This is their first, of what they hope to be, five missions as Senior Missionaries. They have five children. It was such a great opportunity to get to know them a lot better today.

Since we could not talk with our children, son-in-laws and grandchildren last Saturday we stayed home for a while this morning to call some we still had not spoken to. We also felt a need for another family council with all of our children and their spouses, to work through some issues. By the time we were through with all of those calls it was almost 10:30 when we finally got to our office. When you add that with spending extra time with the Curtises, we were not in the office a whole lot today.

Elder Oveson did review six PEF applications with Sameth and they were passed on to the second level review. Then he went in and did the second level review and sent them on to Headquarters. We had our weekly Self-Reliance Service Staff Meeting this afternoon. Then we started working on our Institute lesson for this week. With Institute for this short course on studying the scriptures we are having to dig for material on LDS.org to help with the lesson preparation. We are having to dig more for these lessons than we have ever in the past. That just means we are benefiting from our efforts and we trust the class will also learn something from the lessons. Even when we only have a little bit of time at the office it feels like we are making a difference and that is our greatest desire.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Disappointment Turned to Smiles

Yesterday our internet was down so we were unable to make our weekly calls to our family. Our grand daughter was so upset that she went into a pout. This image was from a video of her showing her disappointment. Her lip couldn't have stuck out much further.  She hadn't slept well because she had been so upset, and our hearts were sad. To try to make it up to her we set our alarm a few minute early today and made a quick call before going to Church this morning. We were so grateful she was much happier with our call today.

It has been three weeks since we were able to attend meetings at Steung Mean Chey. It is exciting seeing the progress on the addition to the building. An as usual, our trip to Steung Mean Chey was a great source of Khmer traffic photos.  There were the usual over-loaded motos heading to market, but today had some unique shots as well. There was the microwave on the moto, but the more amusing shot was the helmet being worn sidewise. We are not quite sure how she managed it, but she is wearing the helmet over top of a hat.

As Sacrament Meeting concluded in Steung Mean Chey we were asked to tell someone how to get to the Chamkarmorn building. A Chinese woman named Lotus had come into the meeting looking for church services. She really wanted to attend an English service, and we had just enough time to take her to the other building for the International Branch meeting. We introduced her to the branch president and his wife, and also learned there is a branch member who speaks Mandarin so they even had a translator for her. It is amazing how these little blessing are received.

The rest of the day was pretty standard. We were grateful for the young elders and sisters who translated for us, making it possible for us to understand the meetings and enjoy our Sunday more. We realize today that we only have 20 Sundays left of our mission. Oh how time flies!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Over The Years Our Saturday's Have Changed

Saturday used to be the day we would sleep late, get things ready for Sunday, and work together as a family. It was the day most of the family would be home from work or school so we could do family projects. Time changes things. Our children are now on the other side of the world from us with their own busy schedules. We now get up and going earlier on Saturday than any other day of the week as we go teach Institute. Our Saturdays are also filled with talking with our family via the Internet, shopping, meetings and still getting ready for Sunday.

This morning we had eighteen that came to the Institute Class. One of the class members that just served a mini-mission was there twenty minutes early, he is still pumped up from his wonderful experience.

As we prepared to make our calls to family, the Internet at our apartment went down and would not come back up. After two hours we went to the Service Center to make at least a few calls home. When the Internet finally came back up we had a Skype video message from our three year old granddaughter, Kate. She would not even look at the camera, she was mad that she could not talk to us. We definitely missed out on talking to our grandchildren today.

Elder Oveson had to go to Stake Presidency meeting and then Stake Leadership Meeting, he was the first speaker today. He used the Delegation PowerPoint presentation to teach them why and how to delegate. One more presentation down three more to go.

Tonight's collage includes the beautiful sunset that we had today, the new building that is under construction across from our apartment, and part of Elder Oveson's PowerPoint presentation.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Not Your Typical Friday


Our days and weeks continue to bring variety to our life. It has been a while since we have had a week or even a day we could define as typical, and that was definitely not today. The one activity we could call typical was our morning walk, but even there we saw some not so typical things.

There were three Skype calls scheduled for this morning, which we tend to have better connection from home. One of them will need to be rescheduled, but the extra time gave us a chance to check on things with family back home. After talking with missionaries in Malaysia and Hong Kong we finally headed to the office at 11:30. By that time our email boxes were pretty full. We took care of our correspondence, ate lunch, read our scriptures, and went through our Institute lesson. 

At 2:20 we told Sameth we were following the LIFO method today.... Last In First Out! One of Elder Oveson's former clients, Diane Card, is an attorney and just happens to be in Cambodia this week on business for the Church. We promised to take her out to the Killing Fields for the afternoon and then to the airport. She will spend the weekend up in Siem Reap, then be back in town on Monday for more meetings. We will try to get together with her again on Monday or Tuesday before she flies back to Utah.

Traffic out of the city was not very promising, but with patience we made it to the Cheung Ek Killing Fields Memorial with plenty of time for a visit. Today was our fourth visit there. As difficult as it is to listen to the stories of the Pol Pot era and the many lives so brutally taken, it is part of the history of Cambodia during our lifetime. 

Rain started to fall as we left the Killing Fields and headed toward the airport. It took less time to get to the airport than we thought it would, but leaving the airport made up for it. There must have been heavier rains around the airport this afternoon judging from the 6+ inch deep puddles and standing water in the road. We had a quick dinner at Brooklyn and were glad to head home, tired from another busy day.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The New Missionaries Are Here

It is amazing to see how things time out for us as we go through the day. Last Sunday Elder Riches asked us to take some paper work to the Mission Office for him. Since getting back we have not had a spare minute to walk over there, so finally we dropped off the car to get it washed and walked to the Mission Office. We were thrilled to see a lot of shoes out front as we arrived, which meant there were a whole bunch of missionaries, including new ones at the office. Originally we thought that the new missionaries arrived yesterday, but this morning we bumped into Elder & Sister Leavitt while we were on our walk and they told us they were coming today. It seems like the busier that we get the less of the young missionaries that we know, we just don't have time to interact as much as before. Sister Oveson did get some nice pictures for the Blog while we were there.

This morning we Skyped with Sister Roberts in Hong Kong. We try to Skype with most of the Self-Reliance Missionaries once a month for about an hour. With Sister Roberts we usually Skype three times per month for about a half hour. We have said before, Sister Roberts is a friend that we enjoy visiting with, who helps us in many ways with our Self-Reliance assignments.

We had on our calendar that there was suppose to be an Asia Area Self-Reliance Committee Meeting today at 10:00. We made sure that we were ready and dialed into the conference room in Hong Kong where it was suppose to be held, but it was empty and the lights were off. After checking with our Area Manager we found out that the meeting was canceled two weeks ago. He promised to make sure we receive updates more consistently in the future. Oh well, at least we tried to be obedient in our calling.

We have our Institute lesson for Saturday most of the way done, now we just need to go through it a couple of times to get more comfortable with the presentation. Since we have to find more updated quotes than the manual has, we are definitely learning as we are preparing.

Today we also worked more on the various PowerPoint presentations that are coming up. This afternoon we Skyped with Elder & Sister Ricks in Thailand who are helping with the presentation at the manager conference. Phanna finished translating the Delegation PowerPoint slides for Elder Oveson's talk at Stake Leadership Training this Saturday. We also worked a little on the slides for the Service Center Devotional. They are all coming together, which is really fun.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Even Common Days Are Great To Remember

We have had our new car long enough that we had our first service appointment at Toyota Cambodia, which they schedule after 30 days or 1,000 miles. This visit was to inspect the vehicle for any defect malfunctions and an oil change, trading out the break-in oil. We were in and out in less than an hour. The drawback is the Toyota dealer is on the other side of town. Today's traffic was very calm so it was not a problem.

After the service appointment we came back to our apartment for a call with family. Our usual schedule is to call about 7:00 a.m. here, which is 6:00 back home. Today worked better for both sides of the world because we had to take the car in, and they had Back-To-School-Night!.  We finally made it to the office about 11:30 this morning. There was just enough time to check emails and get settled in before a meeting at 12:30.

Twice a month there is a Asia Area Self-Reliance team meeting, which happened to be today. These internet meetings are a great way of getting all the different countries together for discussions, training, and support. Some of the training also gave us insights to who will be in Chiang Mai Thailand next month for the manager training. We are blessed to be invited to participate.

The rest of the afternoon sped by with studying for an Institute lesson on Techniques for Effective Scripture Study, email correspondence, our own scripture study, and it was time to go home.

Afternoon and evening showers left the skies dark and looking later than the clock indicated. Thankfully traffic was not a problem today. We were happy to go home and call it a day. Our photos today show a little of life around us. The one we will comment on is the load on the moto is bags of rice. There are five bags of rice stacked on back, and one more in front of the driver. Each bag is 50 kg (110 lbs) each. That poor moto had 660 lbs of cargo plus the driver. Moto drivers have to do a balancing act as they drive their cargo down the road. The bottom picture is from our friends Elder & Sister VanBrocklin, he does beautiful pictures.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Catching Up At The Office

We understand that when we are out of the office that when we come back there are always things that we have to catch up on, but we were only out of the office one day. Today was one of those days were we were pushing all day long, without any real down time at all.

Since we were out of the office yesterday we had to push our weekly Self-Reliance Services Staff Meeting back to this afternoon. These weekly meetings are essential for each of us to understand what is on the plates of the rest of the team. It feels like we are all very busy. August and September are the two biggest months for new and renewed Perpetual Education Fund (PEF) loans. Add on that are the symposiums that we need to do in each stake and district before the end of the year. Then sprinkle in the My Path Devotionals, Self-Reliance Groups and Resource Development, which are our normal responsibilities and we are all busy.

Elder Oveson has been doing the 2nd Level Reviews for the PEF loans for all of the Asia Area and that can get really crazy this time of year as well. There were 13 in the review box this morning and more got added as he was reviewing those. Sister Oveson worked on correspondence and our Institute Lesson that we need to get done.

Since we drove the mission Toyota Avanza, that we are grateful to have, for our trip around the country, we had to fill it up so we could turn in our gas receipts. Also we were not able to go grocery shopping on Saturday we needed to make a quick trip to the grocery store. We had planned on leaving the office early to avoid part of the crowd, but we finally slipped out just before 5:00. It rained some this afternoon and was trying to sprinkle as we headed out, which adds to the congestion, all the motos are less patient because they are getting wet and are extra pushy to get in front of everybody else. The traffic was so heavy it took us forever to just make it to the gas station, then fighting our way to Lucky grocery store was an adventure as well. The heavy traffic did give us some pictures to include in our collage for the day. We are still wondering where they put all of the big chandeliers that we see in the lighting shops that we pass.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Resource Visit and A Long Drive Home

This has been a full weekend for Self-Reliance with our visit to Battambang for a Symposium and My Path Devotional on Saturday, driving to Siem Reap for Church and training leaders and a new facilitator on Sunday. Our trip also included an appointment at the new Marriott Hotel that is under construction in Siem Reap, which they are hoping to have completed by the end of this year. Ashley, the general manager and Nicolai, operations manager, allowed us to visit with them, which we hope will open doors for future resources and job opportunities for Church members in Cambodia. This will be a beautiful hotel when it is completed. They also have plans of putting a second Marriott Hotel in Cambodia down in Sihanoukville, which is down on the coast and a popular destination for those wanting to go to the beach.

With our meetings and scheduled Self-Reliance activities complete we turned the car for home. The roads throughout Cambodia are much improved from what we found 18 months ago on our first trip throughout the country, however they are still not quite like the high speed freeways back home. Most of the roads are two lanes wide with no painted center lines. Even though there are speed limits, few drive the posted speed. There are the oxcarts and other vehicles that look like a rototiller pulling a trailer that drive far slower than the posted speeds. Then there are those that whiz past everyone doing 15-20 kph faster than everyone else. We are thankful the roads are paved and pretty good. Just watch out for the bicycles and pedestrians that enter traffic at any time.  Of course we have come to expect to play the leapfrog passing game.

As we approached Phnom Penh the clouds were building for thunderstorms. We were grateful to be inside a car as we watched the unprotected moto riders and cargo passengers become drenched as the skies opened and the much needed rains fell.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

On To Siem Reap

We continued with another new adventure today, driving from Battambang to Seam Reap. Again it was not our first time on this road either, but all of the other times we were passengers in a van. Just like yesterday these are very rural two lane highways with a speed limit that varies from 40 kmh to 80 kmh (that is 25 mph to 50 mph). The biggest problem was when we got caught in a line of traffic behind big trucks, and there were three of them all together, which were really tough to pass. It took us three hours to drive between the two towns, so we got here just in time to eat lunch, check-in to our room and head to church.

We love to go to church other than our regular assigned Wards and see friends that we have made in Phnom Penh and elsewhere, and to make new friends. That is exactly what happened today. There were the current missionaries that we knew, former missionaries who live in Siem Reap and even a future missionary that we know. In Siem Reap they get enough English speaking visitors that they have translation equipment with headsets for Sacrament Meeting.

Part of the reason that we came to Siem Reap was so that Phanna, the Self-Reliance Manager, could train a new Facilitator. He was suppose to be there along with the District President and one of his counselors at 5:15, but the Facilitator did not get there until about 6:00. The training only took about an hour. President and Sister Christensen were in town to take care of mission and District issues. We saw them after church and decided that we should go out to dinner.

We went to dinner with Elder & Sister Thurston and Elder & Sister Jones on Friday night, Elder & Sister Spencer last night and President & Sister Christensen tonight. Now we need to set a time to go out with Elder & Sister Leavitt and Elder and Sister Dowd when we are back in Phnom Penh. It will be a tougher time to get with Elder & Sister Curtis.

Our pictures tonight includes the sights along the road today and friends at church.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Driving To Battambang Another New Experience

We had a new experience for our Cambodian adventure today, we drove from Phnom Penh to Battambang. We have been in a van from Battambang to Phnom Penh once but we have never driven that route before today. We had a My Path Devotional that started at 3:30 and then a Symposium that started at 5:45. This is the event that we have been preparing the PowerPoint presentation for this last week. There were 26 members, many of them leaders, that came to the My Path Devotional and 32 that were to the Symposium.

This morning we also started the new short course for Institute on Studying the Scriptures. We were thrilled to have twenty-six show up for the class today. With the Church being so new here in Cambodia we never really know how much to expect they know when we ask questions in class. We were thrilled as we asked what is the first step of studying the scriptures and they answered to pray. Even back in Utah we are sure that some would have said to read, but they have been taught well in the past about the importance of praying before they read. It is also great to hear their thought provoking questions as we go through class. We are sure that many of these wonderful participants will be leaders in the Church here in Cambodia in the future.

One thing about going out to the Kaits is more picture opportunities and that was very true again today. It is always interesting to see a moto on top of a load on a truck, but then to add some one sitting on the moto adds to the photo moment. We traveled behind a truck with three young adult men perched high on the load, and we watched the police wave them over to the side of the road. We had to stop and pickup Phanna to ride with us, so that truck got past us again, but the next time we saw it the three were significantly lower on the load. The trees hang low enough over the road that it looks like we are going through an archway, very interesting.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Missionary Opportunities and Dinner at Mama's

One of the unique responsibilities we occasionally have is to proctor the Michigan English Proficiency Test, which is what we had today. In order to apply for admission to BYU Hawaii, students have to prove their ability to understand the English language.  There are some specific guidelines we are given as we instruct the students in taking this test. Today we had two Young Single Adult sisters who took the test. Now they will have to wait for results from BYU-Hawaii to send results.

This weekend we will be traveling to the Kaits (provinces) for Self-Reliance meetings and training. Our day was spent doing finishing touches on lessons and PowerPoint presentations which we will use tomorrow. We will stay in Battambang tomorrow and Siem Reap on Sunday with a full schedule at each stop. On Monday we have an appointment with Marriott Hotel, which is under construction and almost completed, developing a resource for job possibilities for Church members. Just one more of the various things we do with our mission assignment.

Before time to leave the office we decided on dinner at Mama's New York Deli, so when Elder Thurston came past our desk we asked if they would like to join us. It seems Mama's was the missionary spot for the night because Elder and Sister Jones were just finishing their dinner there when we arrived. They stayed and visited while the rest of us order then ate. It was decided that we really need to have Family Home Evening with all the senior missionaries again. We had four months in a row with missionaries coming and going that we didn't need to schedule extra events to be able to get together. Those transitions have settled for a while so it's about time we try FHE again.

Our picture includes dinner at Mama's, street-side sandwiches, a new sign at the Mission home, and all the motos lined up to cut through traffic at the first opportune moment. All of this is part of our life as missionaries in Cambodia.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Time Is Measured Only Unto Men

Elder Oveson has an ability to guess the time fairly accurately even when has not looked at a clock for a while. That is because he is a number person and anything with numbers just make sense to him. With that intro today is day 550 of our mission of about 700 days. But the scriptures teach that, "all is as one day with God, and time only is measured unto men." It sounds like Elder Oveson will have to give up on measuring time eventually.

This morning we stayed home and worked at our apartment for about three and a half hours. We had several Skype calls scheduled and the internet usually works better here, and there is definitely more privacy here than at our desks in the middle of the office. We had a great connection with Sister Roberts in Hong Kong and had, as usual, a great chat with her. She is absolutely more than a fellow missionary, she is a friend. Our connection with Taiwan was not as good so we had to turn off our cameras to maintain the sound from breaking up.

This afternoon we worked more on our PowerPoint presentations and Institute lesson. We are finally starting to feel that we may make it through this week.

When we got to the office we had a Vidyo call with the full Asia Self-Reliance Team about the Perpetual Education Loans. About half way through the call the internet kicked us out and we could not get back in again.

Tonights collage has pictures from our morning walk, of the building going up across from our apartment and some fun things from the grocery store. Sister Oveson loves the smaller Clean Wrap a.k.a. Cling Wrap, and on the toilet paper they have a "Bark Code" instead of a Bar Code.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

PowerPoint Projects and Previews

Our PowerPoint presentations are coming together quite well, but we are still a little overwhelmed with so many things needing to be completed at the same time. Today was a preview run for the Thailand presentation as we met with the Asia Area Self-Reliance missionaries for our monthly internet meeting. It was a bit of a scramble to do the finishing touches before 10:30 a.m. meeting, getting the transitions and animation completed just a few minutes before we logged in to the meeting. The meeting started with internet difficulties, but after the opening prayer things seemed to stabilize and we completed the meeting with minimum difficulties. There were a total of ten connections with Chad Furness in Taiwan, the Asia Area Self-Reliance Manager, and Elder Grant Wayne Boam from Headquarters in Salt Lake City connected with us, as well as missionaries in Thailand, India, Malaysia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and us in Cambodia. It was our best couples meeting yet!

Getting the one PowerPoint ready to present today was only the beginning. Saturday we will be teaching an Institute class on Scripture Study then heading out to Battambang where we will be participating in a Self-Reliance Symposium and making a presentation on "The Value of Work". Phanna has translated these slides into Khmer, but we still are working on the talking behind the slides and how we want to present it. The three projects took us the entire day, and we are not finished yet! We need to have two of them all polished and ready to go before quitting time on Friday. The third we have a little bit of time for finishing touches on it. In the meantime we will also have more Institute lessons and one more PowerPoint for a Service Center Devotional. One thing is certain, we have now add several PowerPoint presentations to our portfolio, and we may have need of these again after we return home.

Near the end of the day Sameth came to invite us to join a party. He has been facilitating an Education For Better Work group and today was the final lesson. He figures he will have 8 of the 11 participants who will have earned certificates for successfully completing their course, including keeping commitments as they work to be more Self-Reliant.

Our other pictures today show the progress on a building make-over we walk by every day. This is transitioning from a Villa to a Bank, and it looks like it will be done before the end of the year. The huge load of giant bags would be recycle goods loaded about 12 to 15 feet high and bulging width as well. One of the many unusual things that are very common in Cambodia.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Opposition In All Things

We absolutely love the teachings of the scriptures in our lives. One profound doctrine taught is that it is necessary to have opposition in all things. Without the bitter we would not understand sweet, and so forth. For those that are wondering, even missionaries have their own little oppositions that they face as we go through our service. Sister Leavitt, an Office Missionary, wrote in a blog about the 725 other days of a mission. She figured that there are five landmark days and then we have to press through the other 725 days in pursuit of the next landmark day. Our mission is only 700 days instead of 730 like the young Elders, but we have been blessed with way more than five landmark days already and we still have five months to go.

Today was one of those days with some normal projects, opposition, and deeper understanding. It is always amazing to see the variety of different emotions that happen as the day goes along.

We spent a lot more time today on the various presentations that are quickly approaching over the next month or so. It is almost a divide and conquer while Sister Oveson tweaks one of the PowerPoint presentations Elder Oveson is working on a different one. Tomorrow we have our Self-Reliance Missionary WebEx with all of the couples, Sister Roberts and Chad. Part of the agenda is for us to share the PowerPoint that we will use in the Manager Conference next month. We want the input and help from the other couples on it and if there is anything else they recommend that we share.

The Church has to comply with the laws in the various countries. Here in Cambodia the official name of the entity that the Church operates under is Cambodia Association of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Today they were changing some of the signs at the Service Center to be in compliance with the laws here. We love the beautiful sunrises and sunsets here in Cambodia, we doubt that they will ever become so common place that we fail to notice them. And a great benefit is we get to share pictures of them on our blog.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Just Another Day in Cambodia

Things have been a little more calm today, and without our walk we would not have had any pictures for our post tonight. The sunrise was without the bright colors, yet the clouds and golden sunrise were still beautiful.

The morning crowd includes those who are busy sweeping and cleaning to have everything clean for the day, so we were amused by the street sweeper woman riding on the back of a bicycle dragging her broom as she went. It reminded us of a day we saw a similar ride, but that woman held her broom in a way that looked like she was riding the broom.

The bamboo on the head gives us a chance to describe another available street food. These bamboo pieces are filled with rice, then cooked over a charcoal fires. They may have some coconut milk or something else to add flavor. We have not tried this, but then we have made a point of avoiding the street foods.

The boy on the moto is someone who greets us some mornings. He usually stands on a corner while his dad sits on the moto, waiting to "dope" or give rides for fare. Today instead of just the moto it appears they have a new Tuk-Tuk, and our young friend sat on the moto while his dad took a nap in the seat of the Tuk-Tuk.

Our day was spent reviewing, editing, and improving PowerPoint presentations we are preparing for several different upcoming events. We were able to get one on "The Value of Work" almost finished, including having Phanna translate the slides into Khmer, for a presentation this weekend in Battambang. What needs to be finished is the animation and font colors, so just a few cosmetic touches. We are excited to see how it is coming together. When it is finished President Christensen has already requested a copy for his files.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

A Flat Tire and Ward Conference

Today was Ward Conference in the Tuol Thom Pong Ward and the Stake President asked Elder Oveson as a Stake Leader to attend the Ward Conferences. Their meetings start at 8:00 a.m. so we did not go to Steung Mean Chey today. That was good for a couple of reasons. Yesterday when we Skyped with Becky's family little Kate had already gone to bed because she was tired. By having some extra time we called her before going to Church. Also, as we went to pull out of our parking space one of the apartment employees pointed to our front passenger tire, which was completely flat. The apartment employee and guard helped us change the tire. We were still late for Church, but we made it before the Sacrament. As we put the flat tire in the back of the car we could see a screw in it, which would explain why it went flat.

For Sunday School in the Tuol Thom Pong Ward we went to the youth and YSA Sunday School Class and we were glad that we did. One of our favorite Institute class members teaches that class, but we had no idea until they turned the time to him. He did a very good job and seemed very pleased that we were there to watch him teach.

We did make it to the Chaktomuk Ward today. Three out of the four missionaries in that Ward are new to the area. They got to introduce themselves in Sacrament Meeting today. One of the new Sister Missionaries is from Cambodia and when we saw her name we pronounced it like a common American, Ormax (or-max). We failed to realize that it was Romanized Khmer and is really pronounced Aumah almost like Alma without the l. We have already posted a picture of the new sisters in other log, so in our collage tonight are the Chatomuk Ward Elders.

Even without going out to Steung Mean Chey we actually got some traffic pictures, Khmer children playing and interesting clouds in the sky. Today was a very good Sabbath and a delight.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Saturday Morning Institute

Saturday morning Institute class has become one of our favorite weekly activities. We began teaching these students about a month after our arrival in the mission, picking up in the middle of the Doctrine and Covenants course. We joked at that time that we had six in our class, but it was a different six each week. There were really about ten listed on the roll at that time.

As we have continued our weekly course, we have since taught Principles of Leadership, Jesus Christ and the Everlasting Gospel, Foundations of the Restoration, and now we just finished Teachings and Doctrine of the Book of Mormon.

With each course change we have announced the start of the new class. Our numbers have grown to an amazing attendance of over 20 each week. This growth didn't happen overnight. We have nurtured this little group and asked them to invite their friends. Then we had the inspiration to send them an email in the middle of the week with notes from the last lesson and reminding them to come again. After a few months of this routine we thought the mid-week reminder was not enough, so on Mondays we started writing "We missed you" email notes to those who were absent. We are amazed at how many new students continue to trickle in. Even today, the last class of the course (which was a review and "Elevate Learning Activity", we had a new student attend and participate).

What a great group of people to be associated with! We have been so blessed to teach (and learn from) this amazing group of young people, who are moving forward to become fantastic leaders in Cambodia.

Let's just say, we are blessed!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Morning Friends

As we head out for our walk each morning we never know what to expect or who or what we will see that day. We were out of our apartment a little earlier than normal, which often means seeing a beautiful sunrise. That was the case this morning. As we walked down our little street the skies above were a fire pink. We knew that it would not last until we got an open and unobstructed shot, so we had to include buildings and wires in our picture. As we got to the Freedom Monument we saw four joggers headed around it, but we were too far away for a picture or to tell for sure who they were. They looked like the Assistants to the President and the Office Elders. Sure enough as we were going around the park they came running the opposite direction. Again too far away and too fast for a picture. A while later we saw the new Sister Training Leaders, but they did not see us, and again no picture. As we got back to the monument end of the park we saw President Christensen. That was highly unusual to see that many missionaries in one morning. Just then the Sisters caught up to us and we finally got a picture of them and one of President Christensen stretching out to start his run. As we came back to our apartment gate there were two little children playing in the construction sand pile across the street. We had a wonderful walk this morning.

This was a very unusual day as we did not have a single appointment or meeting on our agenda. We were supposed to Skype with a Self-Reliance Couple in Malaysia but they had to cancel on us. Still we had more than plenty to keep us very busy all day. It was great to just focus on some of the special projects that we have and our Institute lesson for tomorrow.

This evening we introduced Elder & Sister Jones to another of our favorite restaurants, Brooklyn Pizza and Bistro. Elder Jones polished off his plate of ribs and the rest of us had sandwiches with fries. What a fun way to finish a day. Another full, busy and very rewarding day.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Long Transfers and International Calling

Missionaries begin their long journey of service with mixed emotions. There is excitement for their new adventure, fear of the unknown, anticipation of learning discussions and teaching the discussions. That 18 to 24 months ahead of them seems like forever. Yet day by day and week by week time ticks on. The young missionaries go through a growth process that is hardly possible in any other setting. This was witnessed today with another group of young people who have grown and matured, become awesome missionaries, and have completed their term of service. It seems sad to say goodbye to these phenomenal elders and sisters as they step into their next great adventures.  We told some of them we think this long transfer will take them to their toughest area yet, and they need to always remember the things they learned while they served in the Cambodia Phnom Penh Mission.

Our days continue to tick on and soon enough it will be our turn for the long transfer. But for now we are content to be very busy as we take care of the assignments we have been given. We had another Skype call with Self-Reliance missionaries this morning, and have found the connection can be better at our apartment. With that in mind we stayed home a little longer this morning, did a batch of laundry and made our call before heading to the office.

We have learned a lot about international phone calls to home during our stay on the other side of the world. We have a local cell phone which we share, and Sister Oveson's phone from home we use with WiFi for emails and internet calls. We have found the best carriers for video or voice calls to the U.S. are Google Hangout or FaceTime, or Skype, at least for us. We use the free Skype, which is great for many calls, including calls to all the other countries. When we are calling home to the U.S. it depends what service we are calling to. We have really enjoyed the ability to do conference calls with our family, and the best source for that service is Google Hangouts. We are not meaning to advertise for any company, but this is information we wish we had known before we hopped on a plane and went around the world for two years.

Our photos today include a few of the elders headed on their long transfer, as well as some recent traffic pics. The rack of jeans really is attached to a moto and driving down the road.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

A Whole Day At The Office

It is amazing that we are admitting that we truly needed a full day at the office. We have been out and about so much it felt nice to be able to catch up on what we are getting behind on. In previous posts we have told about the extra projects, including PowerPoint presentations that we have been pulled into over the last couple of weeks. Those projects are on top of what we were already doing on a regular basis.

Some of the things that we do regularly at the office include our institute class preparation, Skyping with other Self-Reliance Missionaries and our Area Manager, some days dozens of emails from many different directions, review Perpetual Education Loan Applications and read our scriptures. Those things alone are very manageable, it is when you throw in a half dozen extra projects that things get very busy.

This morning we started the day at the office with a Skype call with Elder & Sister Ricks in Thailand. They will be at the Manager Conference next month, since it will be in their assigned country, so we have recruited them to help with the presentation. They had some great ideas that they are going to work on for the next five or six days. It feels nice to be able to spread the load, just as we were beginning to feel overwhelmed.

Elder Oveson has been asked to do the majority of the PEF second level reviews for the Asia Area. With our coming and going yesterday he did not get to many at all, so today they were a little backlogged. By the end of today there were only three left and they all have issues that he cannot deal with.

This morning we were up and going a little earlier than normal and the skies were beautiful. As usual we  came across some interesting photo opportunities. The gentlemen is an attorney that we see on a regular basis as we take our walk. One of the hardest things to deal with serving in a third world nation are the poor children that sleep on the sidewalk. The one little girl is using the curb as her pillow. There were a lot more beggars than usual out this morning including this little boy. These evening the skies were overcast and it was trying to rain.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Coming and Going

Today is one of those days that feels like there was a lot of coming and going. We got up early to go for a walk before coming to the office for work and the service center devotion. With transfer this week we decided to go to district meeting as three of our friends prepare to go on their long transfer home. We ran a couple of errands while coming back to the office. This afternoon we made arrangements to go inspect missionary apartments, so we ate our lunch on the way. After visiting three apartments, we needed to come back to the office and arrived just in time for Elder Oveson and Phanna to go to an appointment at a school. Coming home from the office we found traffic to be crazy. Elder Oveson still had another meeting for more going and coming.


With all the coming and going in the mission, we are saying goodbye to Sister Larsen and Sister Sheffield in the Chaktomuk Ward and hello to Sister Schwab and Sister Ormax [top left photo] as the new sister training leaders. There will be a change in the office, Elder Osborne is headed to the North Zone, and Elder Hills will be with Elder Beckstead in the office.

Out in Steung Mean Chey 3rd Ward we say goodbye to Elder Maurer (bottom left), and Elder Stringham will have Elder Try (Tree) as his new companion. Sister Peng will stay and will have Sister Y (Yee) as her new companion. Sister Clark will now be up in Battambang, with Elder and Sister Spencer. We said to tell the Spencers they are getting the best missionaries in Battambang this transfer.

Elder Oveson and Phanna had a good visit with ACLEDA School [bottom right]. ACLEDA is the biggest bank in Cambodia, and they also have a school focused on Banking. They would like to become a preferred school for the PEF program.  It was interesting to learn that to be a bank teller requires at least a bachelor's degree. This school would assist in moving up in the banking industry.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Apartment Inspections and Cupcakes

Shortly after arriving in Cambodia we recommended to Phanna and Sameth that we have a weekly Self-Reliance Services Staff Meeting. It bounced around which day was best and then what time of the day, but it finally settled in on Monday morning at 8:30. We have rotated who conducts and who has the thought, but this meeting let's us know what is the comings and goings are with everyone. To us it has become an important way to start the week. The busier we get the more important it is to meet.

This morning we also took a walk to the Mission Office and for an errand. There is a member that has a dry cleaning service that picks up at the Mission Office, so we took Elder Oveson's suit over to get cleaned. While we were out we walked to a bakery that specializes in cupcakes. We have apartment inspections and we always try to take them a treat. This will probably be the one and only time we do cupcakes, donuts are half the price and a lot bigger.

We are assigned to inspect four missionary apartments, three Elders and one Sisters. Three of the four are out in Steung Mean Chey so we want to get them all at once, which will be tomorrow. Today we did the Tuol Thom Pong Elders who are the current Zone Leaders. It was kind of hard because both are leaving the area, one is finishing his mission and headed home, the other is off to Battambang. We did tell them want needs to be finished up before they move out. They are both good missionaries and should follow through well.

Sister Oveson has decided that one thing that she has definitely learned on our mission is how to put together PowerPoint presentations. She has done more in the last eighteen months than in her whole life previously. She has become a pro on bandaging pictures that need just a little touch up here or there.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Birthdays and Goodbyes

Sundays are often one of the busiest days of the week, what with attending two wards for three hour meetings blocks, and often other meetings on top of that. Traffic can be crazy going to and from Steung Mean Chey, then out again to Chaktomuk Ward.  For some reason today the traffic was weird, it just seemed heavier than normal. No specific crazy traffic to write home about, I guess that is what happens since we have been facing this traffic for more than seventeen months.

This week Chaktomuk Ward said goodbye to Sister Larsen, Sister Sheffield, and Elder Asay (a.k.a. "A.C. short for Air Conditioning). Elder Asay and Sister Larsen both had birthdays this week so the young adults brought an ice-cream cake from Dairy Queen (one of the members works there) to celebrate. The relief society sisters were sad to say goodbye to the sister missionaries, so Sister Oveson assured them she wasn't leaving yet. We have become friends with these wonderful saints in both Chaktomuk and Steung Mean Chey.

The mission is facing a unique transfer sequence beginning this week. Because of changes in the length of training at the MTC, arrival dates for new missionaries entering the field has gone through some adjustments. The arrivals are offset by two weeks when compared with departures of the group just finishing. With the lag time between, the mission will host a group of local young adults who will be serving a 2 week Mini Mission. Several of our young adult friends will be among that group. It will be interest to see how this all works out.


Saturday, August 6, 2016

Blessings and Baptisms

It feels like each day is so full, but likewise very fulfilling. We have learned that as you look for the blessings in everything that we are doing then being busy is not a burden. Today has been all the way full of those blessings.

As we got to the Phnom Penh South Stake Center at 6:30 this morning two of the Institute class members were already there. When we started there were twelve that made it on time, including two new class members. Before we finished there were twenty that made it to Institute today. We concluded the lessons on the Doctrine and Principles of the Book of Mormon. As usual there was a great spirit and we learned along with the rest of the class.

Our first priority after Institute is head home and call our family. We look forward to talking to all of them and it is hard to finish with one family and go to the next. There are always fun stories that have happened during the previous week. It seems like there are the photo bombers and the photo avoiders. What a blessing to claim each and every one and feel of the joy of being part of such an important group.

There was a baptism this evening in the Chaktomuk Ward. The nine or ten year old son of a member was baptized. We have seen the mother off and on for quite a while, so it was great to see her son baptized.

Elder Oveson had his usual Stake Meetings and Sister Oveson took care of Preparation Day tasks this afternoon. Without the divide and conquer there would be a lot that just would not get done.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Friday, Again?

The weeks are flying by. We are sure we just wrote about Friday yesterday or the day before, yet here we are most of the way through another Friday here in Cambodia.

We started the morning by cancelling our walk and joining a family council via Google Hangouts. It still is amazing that we can talk to people on the other side of the world with a simple connection, no additional fees. When our daughter was on her mission in Brazil it was a major expense to talk to her on Mother's Day or Christmas. Our family is able to talk to us every week. It takes a little planning for the short window of time when they are just finishing up one day and we are getting started on the next.

It seems there are more projects, assignments, and reports that have been finding their way onto our To-Do-List. We have lesson plans for our weekly Institute class to prepare, a presentation for a Symposium in Battambang in two weeks on The Value of Work,  a PowerPoint lesson to present in a Service Center Devotional the first part of September, the internet meeting with the Asia Area Senior Missionaries, and another PowerPoint and training we need to prepare for Self-Reliance Managers in Thailand the middle of September. Each of these presentations are very different, so we can't just prepare one and use it for all. We are having a lot of practice in preparing PowerPoint presentations. We just didn't realize that was one of the skills we were coming to Cambodia to refine.

When we moved our office to the Service Center last December there was a bulletin board next to Elder Oveson's desk that was completely with papers. It took a few weeks for it to be moved to the new area where Neth's desk had moved, with all the papers still attached. Today that bulletin board was put in order. She discovered in the cleanup how much was no longer needed.

The other photos today were from our different ventures throughout this city. We especially like the very Khmer look of the woman top right. The laid back posture was an added touch, topping of the color coordination of the outfit.


And finally, we received the exciting announcement today. Sameth and his wife Thida welcomed a new baby girl into their family today. We can hardly wait to get to meet this new little one.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Rib Thursday

We found out a new blessing of taking our walk this morning. As we were finishing our lap around the monument park we saw the Leavitts. We usually wave acknowledgement to each other, but today they walked up to where we were and asked what we were doing for lunch and if we had a hankering for some good ribs. Two of the Vietnamese Elders had started what they call Rib Thursday, they barbecue racks of ribs and have invited several other missionaries to eat with them. They told us they would pick us up at 11:30 and to be ready for a treat.

They were absolutely correct in this description. There were four racks of ribs that the Elders had cooked in a little oven similar to the one that we have. The tradition had started because Thursday morning is planning time so they are in their apartments until after lunch. That gave them plenty of time to slow cook the ribs and they have the process down to a science now. Along with the ribs we had real mashed potatoes and green salad. Sister Leavitt had brought some delicious cupcakes that were very heavy and extremely good. That meal was definitely not good if we want to keep the weight off that we lost at the first of our mission. We will need to walk a little further and watch what else we eat after this week.

One of the true joys of being the Communication Couple for the Self-Reliance Missionaries here in Asia is Skyping with the other missionaries. Today we were able to Skype with Elder & Sister Ricks in Thailand. We had a great visit and came up with some ideas about training at the Manager Meeting, they will also be there since it is in Thailand. We also came up with some suggestions on how to leverage the Education for Better Work groups to allow a second entry date. We will run that one by our Area Manager.

In our seventeen months of being here Elder Oveson has not had the same barber do his hair yet. He has tried several barbershops more than once but each time there has been a different barber that has cut his hair. That happened again today. He tried a new shop last month and they did a great job on the sides, but left too much on the top. He went back to try and get the same barber but explain that he needed more off the top. Unfortunately his plan did not work. We have often heard the difference in an okay haircut and a good one is a couple of weeks. That has not quite worked yet here in Cambodia.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Thanks "Dad and Mom" Meinzer

When we arrived in Cambodia just over 17 months ago we were travel weary and a bit overwhelmed by being on the other side of the world somewhere in Asia where we had never been before. We were so grateful to have been taken in by Elder and Sister Meinzer, who hosted us for 11 days. They taught us so much about getting around, driving lessons for Elder Oveson, and survival tips that have been invaluable. They became our "Dad and Mom" in so many ways on this grand adventure.

Meinzers completed their mission in April and returned to their home in Northern California. One item they shipped home for a souvenir of their Cambodia days is a Tuk Tuk. We recently mentioned to "Mom and Dad" Meinzer that our daughter was headed past their neighborhood on their way to a family reunion, they graciously invited our daughter to stop by for lunch and to let the boys experience a real Cambodia Tuk Tuk. From the photos we received it looks like they have taken good care of the travelers. Thanks, Dad and Mom!

Today was a busy day at the office with a Skype call to India, Cambodia Self-Reliance Committee Meeting, and a variety of other projects to work on. We were happy to have nothing on the calendar for the evening except doing a batch of laundry and kick up our feet to write our blog.

The sunset photos were from our apartment this week. We are blessed to see some amazing sunsets here. So thankful for the beautiful painted skies! This is one thing we will miss when we leave Cambodia.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Another Farewell Dinner

As we entered the Mission Training Center (MTC) in Provo almost eighteen months ago we asked if there were any young missionaries preparing to go to Cambodia. We were excited to hear that there were two districts, and the best time to find them was when we went to eat. Fortunate for us they had the same meal times as us and we found them that first day that we were there. After that we ate with them as often as we could. We have claimed to be part of their group every since the MTC. Next week the three sisters of that group go home. We have grown to truly love Sister Killian, Sister Sheffield and Sister Larsen. They have all been translators for us on Sunday and we have interacted in many other ways with them also.

This evening we arranged to take Sister Larsen and Sister Sheffield, since they are in the same area of the city as we are, out to dinner for one last time. We have previously taken them to Brooklyn Pizza and Bistro a couple of times for lunch. Tonight we gave them three options and they chose Patio Hotel's Elephant Sky Bar & Grill. Unfortunately as we went to pick them up it was raining so we ended up at Fox instead. The missionaries work until 7:00 p.m. here and then go in for dinner and for their evening study and preparation. We had permission to take them to dinner and then right back to their apartment, for safety purposes.

This morning we made it to the office just in time to join the Service Center weekly devotional. Our Self-Reliance Manager, Yi Phanna, did the training portion on aligning with the brethren. We have been asked to do the training on the 6th of September, we have a little time but we have three different presentations to prepare in the next month and a half.

We were also able to work on preparing for our Institute lesson for this week, read the scriptures, work on the Perpetual Education Fund loans and answer emails today. It is a joy to be busy all day long and to go home tired. That happens more days than not for us.




Monday, August 1, 2016

Visiting CJF with Dowds and Joneses

Today was the second day the alarm went off before we were awake and out of bed. Either we have been extra tired or we have somehow reset our internal clock, but it was good to go out for a walk before going into the office.

Monday tends to bring extra things added to our agenda. This morning was our weekly Self-Reliance staff meeting, followed by a Skype call with Chad (who is in Mongolia this week). The internet connection failed a few times before not being able to reconnect. We figure Mongolia and Cambodia were just not playing well together for us today. We had covered most of what needed to be discussed.

After visiting CJF (Cambodia Job Foundation) last week we mentioned to Elder and Sister Dowd (Public Affairs) that they should take a tour there as well. Then we happened to talk to Elder and Sister Jones and they wanted to come along, too. We set an appointment for 11:00 this morning at CJF. It turned out today was birthdays for Sister Dowd as well as our friend Seyha (at CJF). We had a great visit and the Joneses and Dowds found treasures to purchase. We were the only ones who didn't make a purchase, however we will plan to buy a few items later.

After CJF we also made a visit to Zion International School, which is also run by President and Sister Moon, our former mission president. Several of our Cambodian friends have their children enrolled there, so it was good to see this as well.

We figured a senior couple field trip needed to include lunch at Mama's New York Deli. We introduced Elder and Sister Dowd to Mama and her delicious food, Elder and Sister Jones have already become regular customers for Mama.

We returned to our office just before 3:00, grateful that things were not too out of control, and we were even able to get a start on our Institute lesson for Saturday.