A Short Break

As we concluded our Christmas week with the missionaries in Battambang, we decided to take a few days and see some of the far provinces of Cambodia. We traveled with the President Lewis, and his wife to Preah Vihear, Rattanakiri, and Kratié Provinces. We were amazed at the beauty of these provinces.

There is an ancient temple built in the 9th century on the Thai border, that is built on a mountain top. We are amazed at the accomplishment of ancient designers and builders. Some of the ruins very much looks like ruins found in Mexico and South America.

9th Century temple in the Northern Provinces near Thailand. Similar to the ancient temples in South America and Mexico. Cambodia has many many ancient temples similar to this, dotting the land.

When we arrived in Ratanakiri, we were just very close to the Vietnam Border. We met with two gentlemen who have been joining an online Church Institute class. These fellows have been intrigued by the lessons and the concepts. They are not members of our church, but have been Christians for about 10 years. They are still looking for something that is missing. Our interpreters and President Lewis, met with them and left a priesthood blessing on them. These men take what they learn each week and then teach the concepts to the 40 or so that are in their weekly meeting group. They are anxious for each class to get more knowledge to share with their small congregation. They live just next to the Vietnam border. They are many hours from the nearest branch of the church. This is the second of two groups who are studying the Gospel in a remote area where there are no missionaries or branches. The Gospel is spreading dramatically through social media and tech communication.

Visiting with our friends in Ratanakiri. The two on the left are our translators, who have recently returned from their missions. The two on the right have been studying Institute online, they are many hours from the nearest branch. Sweet, humble men who are teaching their study group as they learn from an online institute class. A discussion was taught and commitments to continue to read and discover the Gospel.
This little guy is called a ‘Ting Mong’. Villagers put these up in front of their property to ward of evil spirits, and disease. These are found in many areas to ward off Covid 19.
Beauty in Cambodia
A Cambodian home in the middle of their farm. Rice, ready to harvest. The home is on stilts, to protect it from the floods in the rainy season.

On our way back, toward Phnom Penh, we stopped in Kratié, and rented a fishing boat on the Mekong River. We were told that there are fresh water Dolphins in the area. We were amazed at the sight of dolphins swimming in the river. Two adults and a baby dolphin, and others gently swimming in the moving current of the river.

The river moves quickly, and is about 1.5 miles across. The water is much more clear north of Phnom Penh.
Steering with his right foot and standing for extended time on his left foot, our captain guided us around the river looking for dolphins. A broad smile, and a quick eye, he was a delight!

We are back in Phnom Penh after several days of seeing more of this beautiful country. The welcome break came as our office in Hong Kong was on vacation. We are renewed and ready to go back to work. Our contracts are ready from Hong Kong, and we can execute them with our contractors.

We are beginning a new year. 2020 came with challenges, and with blessings. It is allowing us to communicate with large groups of people without travel. It is allowing the missionaries to teach the Gospel to people far away. We hope that you might see the blessings of the year 2020 in spite of the challenges that it brought.

Sunday we have the opportunity to go to two baptisms, and take sacraments to several homes in the Branch. We always meet the sweetest people when we visit members. Below is a particularly wonderful family.

The Sister in the middle is surrounded by her 4 children. She works every day pushing the cart below, and fills it with scraps of recycle materials. She pushes it all day as she holds the little one in front of her. Her husband recently left and took another wife. This woman has been a member for 10 years and was happy to have us bring the sacrament to her family. The girls to her right are 11 and 14. The oldest watches the family while mom and the baby work all day. Her meager income is what puts food on the table.
The recycle cart. We see these all around the city. By the end of the day some might be stacked with card board, with a bag of plastic bottles or aluminum cans hanging from the side. They push these through traffic, dodging large trucks, and speeding motos. As you can see, it resembles a pioneer handcart.

We love the Gospel, we love our Savior. We are excited for the coming year. We love our family! We love our dear friends. Have a wonderful new year. There are many great things to come. To our grandchildren, we encourage you to do challenging things. Hard things help us grow. Your grandma and I have been challenged here. It is hard, but we love the tremendous blessings, and experiences that come. It is the most wonderful thing to be on a mission. We love you!!


Elder and Sister Stone