Another Day in Paradise!

A term our mission president uses regularly. At first I thought it a bit interesting, maybe even sarcastic. But as I have grown to know him and to know the people and the culture. I realize he is sincere. I see our time here as a moment. Time is flying by. We are being exposed to glimpses of beauty. Beauty of the land, beauty in the old people, beauty in the children. We are so enjoying our time here.

Early in the week, we traveled to Siem Reap with the doctors. We work together on many of the projects. They provide training, and equipment for the hospitals and health centers. We assist their work by providing wells, and trash incinerators. We visited a health center there. They deliver 60 babies each month. The recovery area is limited, so many are recovering under an awning. They are exposed to the mosquitos, and the mosquitos this time of year can carry malaria and dengue fever. They often have mosquito netting for the infants, but almost never for the mother. We are looking to try to expand the recovery area to give mothers a more secure area to rest and take care of their new child.

Meeting friends as we look at ways to help the school. A need latrine, a new trash kiln

We also visited a high school, and 3 primary schools. As usual we found a need for more latrines. Trash kilns, and hand wash areas. While we were working that day, we were processing another emergency food and shelter request for flood victims here. Thousands are stranded because of the heavy rains. We are trying to expedite help to the people in need. Thank goodness for the internet. We can compile and submit requests quickly while we are on the road.

Stickey rice cooking in bamboo over a fire. Sold along the highway.

As we drove the 6 hour drive back to Phnom Penh, we saw folks along the road pounding rice for the upcoming water festival. They toast the rice, then pound it flat, sift out the small fines and bag the flat raw rice and sell it for the celebration. The water festival occurs every year in October. It is marked by the Monks in Phnom Penh hitting a large gong, when the water level in the Tonle Sap river reverses course and flows down from the lake near Battambang. It is relative to the Mekong flows lowering and allowing the water to flow down stream, releasing the high waters from above. The folks who pound the rice work in a very noisy environment, there are dozens along the road, only at this time of year.

We took a morning while in Siem Reap to visit the beautiful Anchor Wat. Massive in size, it was built in the 12th century. It is made of sandstone with intricate carvings throughout.
Preparing and cooking sticky rice to be sold for the water festival.

Saturday and today was indeed the highlight of our week. We love meeting and ministering to the members. We cleaned the church with the missionaries, and then visited with a young 13 year old boy about the priesthood. He has not yet been ordained, his older brother has started to come back to church, he is 25 is a priest and will start helping his brother with the sacrament. President Final is planning to ordain the younger boy and is assigning both to help with the sacrament. Two more sisters came to church today. We met another after church who walked through knee deep water and mud to see us while we were in the neighborhood. She smiled broadly and said should would come next week…This poor little corner of outer Phnom Penh has many less active members. We are on a little harvesting mission, a visit and they come back to church. They love Sister Stone. When sisters see here, they greet her, touch her arm and smile as they look into her eyes. The love of these people is so wonderful to feel. We feel so great full to represent HIM. We love HIM. HE is our savior and redeemer. We love wearing HIS name on our clothes. Jesus Christ is truly the light and life of the world. We worship Him and we adore Him. We acclaim Him to be the Son of God. Our mission is truly a wonderful experience.

Sister Ten coming to meet us today as we visited with another member. Just behind her, she was wading through knee deep water and mud as she left her home. Notice the grey clay pot, these are used around the country to collect rain water for consumption, and for laundry.
Sister Ten. We visited with her today, she is anxious to return to church. Many people here just seem to be forgotten. She has such a wonderful smile.
The boy in the foreground is 13, we taught him about the Aaronic Priesthood and he will be ordained next week. His brother further down is coming back to church. I got another haircut Saturday, and the barber and his wife came back to church today. It is good to see new faces. It is good to feel the Spirit.

We love our mission here. We are glad to wake up every morning and realize we have another day in paradise!

We love our family, everyone. We pray for each of you every day. We love our friends. We pray all of you. We pray for those with great suffering, those who are lonely. We love you.

More to come…

Love, Elder and Sister Stone