Aug 14
Week 98 -Pursat: "Infiltrating A Buddhist Monastery"
Great week! Things started off really well with zone conference on Tuesday. President and Sister Christensen taught a lot about ordinances, specifically baptism and the sacrament. It was an excellent conference and during the rest of the week, I focused most of my studies on the sacrament as well. Two talks have given me a much better understanding of how baptism and the sacrament are interrelated: ​"Always Have His Spirit" by Elder Oaks and "Always Retain a Remission of Your Sins" by Elder Bednar. They both have made me much more aware of the vital necessity for the sacrament and my attitude as I partake of the sacrament each week. 
The work is going well also! Lyna and Ryta came to church again and I'm pleased with the progress that they're making! We also have a couple of other investigators that are progressing now too. Some of our investigators have been really busy over the past couple of weeks though so we're hoping that this week we'll be able to find some consistency, but we're making plans to have a few baptisms at the beginning of September! We also found a new investigator family this week! Elder McDonald and I contacted them at their house last week and they said we could come back and teach them about Jesus Christ. I don't think they thought we were serious about coming back though because they seemed very surprised when we showed up at their house again. We had a good lesson about Heavenly Father and prayer though. They were fairly interested and when we go back we're planning on teaching about the Plan of Salvation so we're hoping that will really spark their interest. 
An interesting experience we had this week was when we went to go visit one of the Buddhist wats (basically a Buddhist temple/pagoda/monastery) close to our house. An investigator suggested that we go to this wat and get the free books they offer to people that teach about Buddhism so that we can understand the Khmae people better and be able to connect with them more when we teach. Knowing full well that we would not be able to understand anything in these books (they're filled with really ancient and deep Khmae/Buddhist words), we figured it would be a good adventure. So before we went home for the night we decided to make a stop at the wat. It was already dark and as we walked in, we were soon surrounded by a bunch of growling dogs and a crowd of Buddhist monks. I think the darkness added to the effect, but I will admit I was pretty scared for a little bit. Things quickly lightened up once we actually started talking to the monks. though. They led us through their wat with the crowd of monks still following us (they were pretty intrigued at the sight of two white guys in their wat speaking Khmae) and they gave us their books which I can confirm that we definitely do not understand. But like I said it was a fun adventure - being led by Buddhist monks through their monastery in the night. 
That's all for now! Have a great week, everyone!
I love you all! 
អ៊ែលឌើរ​​ មែនឌែនហល
Elder Mendenhall

Sorry, no photos this week.​​

Aug 07
Week 97 - Pursat: "We Baptized A Jew!"
Jew got baptized this week! I'm so happy for her. She's been waiting for such a long time to get baptized and it finally happened! I don't know if I've ever seen someone so excited to get baptized. We had the baptismal service on Saturday night after our English class so a lot of our English class students stayed and a lot of the members came to support her as well. She asked me to baptize her and as I stood in the water with her, I really just felt an overwhelming sense of how much Heavenly Father loved her and how happy He was that she was deciding to do this. 
The rest of the work is going pretty well also. It was a little difficult this week because the high school students are taking finals so some of our investigators have been busy and also a lot of our potential investigators' phones have stopped working so we can't get in touch with them, but we're just hoping that it will all work out. The good news is that Lyna and Ryta, the two girls that I mentioned a few weeks ago, have come to church for three weeks in a row now and they've accepted a baptismal date for next month! We also had a few really good lessons with some investigators that have been struggling lately so I'm hoping that we can get the ball rolling with them. 
Overall, things are just peachy right now. I love working with Elder McDonald and I really love the members in Pursat. It's a lot of fun! 
That's all for this week! Hopefully there's more exciting news to come!
I love you all! 
អ៊ែលឌើរ​​ មែនឌែនហល
Elder Mendenhall
P.S. For those wondering what happened in Kampong Thom that required pulling out the American missionaries, the government leaders there said that the visas that we have are not sufficient for some reason so they booted all the Americans out. None of the other provinces have this issue though and they (KT officials) have been giving us problems forever. Remember Lt. Fresh Girl? It was the same deal.




Jul 31
Week 96 - Pursat: "Emergency Transfer 2.0"
Really crazy week! First of all, I have another new companion! My old area Kampong Thom is having some problems and all of the American elders had to be pulled out. So there was a lot of moving around and Elder Roet ended up getting sent to Kampong Thom to fill the void. And now my new companion is Elder McDonald! He's been out for a little over a year now and I've known him since we were in the same zone together when I was in Kampong Thom. We've been together since Saturday, but it's been a lot of fun so far! I was sad to say goodbye to Elder Roet so quickly, but he will do great in Kampong Thom. 

While all of this emergency transfer stuff was going down we were also preparing for our big Pioneer Day activity! We rented a bus and took all of the members to Battambang for their Pioneer Day celebration there on Saturday. It was really successful. We had 55 people come! And most were friends and family of the members here. We had some other investigators and some potential investigators come as well and I think everyone had a great time! I think we'll get a lot of new investigators because of the activity. We started the day by inviting everyone to come to the church early in the morning to help make food and pack it and then after a 2 hour bus ride we went to visit a mountain, Phnom Sompov, before the festivities started. We ate lunch there and had a couple of hours to mess around and then we went to the church where they had a few speakers and the youth performed a play about the Restoration and the pioneers. Afterwards there was food and music. It was really great to see our members having fun with each other and getting to know all of the friends and family that came as well. And it was also really cool to see the Pursat members get a glimpse of the church outside of the little Pursat bubble. I think now they have a vision of what the church can become and I'm hoping it will motivate them a little bit. And of course it was a good chance for them to learn about our pioneer heritage. I told them all that they are modern day pioneers in Pursat and it's up to them to leave a good legacy.  

The work is starting to pick up as well! We found a couple more investigators this week and 4 of our investigators came to church! And like I said before there should be some new investigators coming from the activity this weekend! AND the plans are in place for Jew to be baptized on Saturday! It's an exciting time for Pursat and I hope it just keeps getting better! 
I love you all!
អ៊ែលឌើរ​​ មែនឌែនហល
Elder Mendenhall

Pictures from the Pioneer Day activity!






We also had a smaller activity this week. It was a Family Home Evening of sorts at our friend, Bong Pheak's, house.

I think every area I go to has a crazy old man who is impossible to understand. Om Rithy is Pursat's crazy old man.

We went to Phnom Penh for a leadership meeting at transfers and I got to go to dinner with one of my old investigators from Chaktomuk. His name is Rotana and he has been trying to receive an answer about the Gospel for a long time. At dinner he said he was planning on getting baptized! I'm so excited for him!

When you're stuck on a bus for several hours, things start getting weird.​



Jul 24
Week 95 - Pursat: "Happy Pioneer Day!"
Another outstanding week! We saw a lot of good things happen this week and I also got to go on an exchange in Battambang with my buddy, Elder Lasswell. 
Elder Roet and I have been determined to do whatever we can to find new investigators so that has led to us devoting a lot more of our schedule to finding. As a result we've developed a pretty lengthy list of potential investigators. We were able to follow up with a couple of those this week and they said that we could come back to teach them more! Our first lessons with them certainly weren't Ensign or Liahona worthy, but there is at least a little bit of interest in learning more and that's really all we need to work with and we'll let the Spirit take care of the rest. 
Recently, we've also seen a lot of success come from our English class. On Sunday, 3 of our students came to church! We usually invite our students to come to church, hoping that they'll be interested in seeing what it's all about, but we usually are met with "I'll come if I have time." And then they don't come. But on Sunday, one of our long time students, Veasna, came! He has been friends with the youth in our group for a while and I guess he finally decided to check it out. We were able to meet with him briefly after church and teach him about the Plan of Salvation and baptism. And he accepted a baptismal date for August 19th so be on the lookout for that! 
A couple of girls who just started coming to our English class also attended! It seems that they have a little bit of Christian background already and one of the girls, Lyna, was curious about why there are so many different Christian churches (Restoration, anyone?). So we scheduled to meet them again this week! 
It really seems like things are starting to come together. Maybe I'm getting ahead of myself and next week I'll tell you that things are falling apart, but I feel really good about what's happening and I'm excited for our prospects! This is the Lord's work and He is preparing people and placing them where we can find them - even in Pursat!
Oh, on Saturday we're renting a bus and taking all the members to Battambang for their Pioneer Day party so that should be fun. I still find it strange that members in Cambodia celebrate Pioneer Day more devoutly than just about everyone outside of Utah and Idaho. It should be fun! ​ 
Transfer calls were last night and I'm staying with Elder Roet in Pursat for at least one more transfer! And Elder Roet's now the district leader so he's moving right on up! 
Have a great week, everyone! I love you all! 
អ៊ែលឌើរ​​ មែនឌែនហល
Elder Mendenhall
Sorry, no pictures this week.

Jul 17
Week 94 - Pursat: "A New Record!"
My first full week with Elder Roet was excellent! Like I said last week, he loves working hard and so we hit the ground running and we've seen a lot of good things happen this week! 
We were able to pick up three new investigators this week! Two of them are guys from our English class that we've known for a while now. After our English class, we always share a short spiritual thought to give the students a chance to hear about the Gospel. We shared about Jospeh Smith and the First Vision. We told them that Joseph Smith was just like all of them. He wanted to know what he should do with his life. He had lots of questions. And through his prayer, God revealed the truth to him. We invited all of them to take a chance and learn more about the truth that Jesus Christ has restored to the earth. The Spirit was very strong and I could tell that it was speaking to them. Well long story short, we were able to invite both of these young men, Pheany and Lincoln (I'm pretty sure that's not his real name), to learn more and come to church the next day - which they did! I'm really hoping that we will be able to continue to meet with them and help them discover more about the Savior. 
The other investigator we found is a man who learned with the elders before. Elder Khiev had told me about him and showed me where his house was a long time ago, but I never had the chance to meet him. Elder Roet and I had an open hour in our schedule and we were trying to think of some finding ideas. Suddenly the thought popped into my head that we should go to this former investigator's house. I had never met him before and I wasn't even sure if he would be home because Elder Khiev told me that he was always really busy. But something told me that we should go so that's what we did!

And he was home! We were able to sit down with him and talk for a while and he said that we could come back next week and teach him and his wife again! I'm so grateful that the Holy Ghost prompted me to go visit him and I hope that this time we can get him to commit! 
Now what might be the most surprising thing happened on Sunday! We had 30 people at church! I honestly think it might be the most people that have ever attended sacrament meeting in Pursat. On average we have about 15 people attend every week and we only have a total of 30 members so it was definitely unexpected. We did have 5 visitors so that boosted the number a little bit, and it's probably unlikely that we'll break 30 again anytime soon, but I will let myself be excited about it for the time being. 
So overall it was a really good week! I'm hoping that it's a sign of things to come! 
I love you all! 
អ៊ែលឌើរ​​ មែនឌែនហល
Elder Mendenhall
For those who don't know, my mom is from Cambodia. She was born and grew up in Battambang. In Pursat, we are in a district with the elders and sisters in Battambang so we go there for district meeting every week. Last week, we made some extra time to go on a hunt for my mother's old house and we found it!​

Jul 10
Week 93 - Pursat: "Emergency Transfer"
So I have a new companion now! Transfers aren't for another two weeks, but my new companion, Elder Roet, just came back from the MTC on Wednesday and since it was in the middle of the transfer, they had to move some missionaries around. Even though he just got back from the MTC, he's actually been serving for almost 6 months already. Sometimes there aren't enough Cambodian missionaries to send to the Philippines MTC when missionaries get their calls, so they let them start serving in the field for a little bit while they wait for a large enough group to send to the MTC. So now he's back and he's way too cool for me. Everybody in the mission raves about him. He loves missionary work and he works extremely hard.  I feel like I'm constantly having to prove myself so I'm not the lame one in the companionship and so far I'm not doing a very good job haha! Elder Roet is from Siem Reap and I actually knew him before he became a missionary so it should be a lot of fun! 
Because of the emergency transfer, we were barely in our area this week. We were in Battambang on Monday night when we got the call that Elder Khiev would be transferring and we didn't get back to Pursat until Tuesday evening. On Wednesday morning, we left to Phnom Penh and on Wednesday night Elder Roet got off the plane. We were originally going to ride the bus back to Pursat on Thursday morning, but President Christensen wanted Elder Roet to have a chance to attend a zone conference so we stayed in the city until Friday and joined the North Zone Conference. We got back to Pursat on Friday night. So another week full of lots of traveling! 
Because we were out of our area so much this week, we didn't get a lot of teaching in, but we did have a chance to teach Jew! She's super excited for her baptism in a few weeks and on Sunday she'll be able to come to church for the first time! It's going to be awesome! 
That's all for this week! I love you all!
អ៊ែលឌើរ​​ មែនឌែនហល
Elder Mendenhall


A selfie that Elder Roet and I took literally two seconds ago.


I had the good fortune of eating a Cambodian delicacy the other night. They call it the baby duck egg. They let the baby duck develop for a little bit and then they boil it up and eat it. Usually it's actually pretty tasty, but sometimes you get really lucky and you get one that's a little bit too far along the developmental trail. This one had feathers and eyes and a beak already. As much as I wanted to, I couldn't quite get it down.


Some pictures from my last Siem Reap trip!​ This the district president, President Dara (the Cambodian George Lopez as I like to call him), and his son, Veasna.


This is President Loy (also in the district presidency) and his wife Ming Phany.


When we were in the city Elder Roet needed to pick up his bike from the shop and we had to get creative when we needed to take the bike he borrowed back to the mission home.


Jul 03
Week 92 - Pursat: "Fireworks In Pursat?"
Another crazy week, but a good one! We had zone conference with President and Sister Christensen on Wednesday in Siem Reap so I got to go back to my birth area again! After not getting to go for over a year, I've been able to visit twice in the last month! We had to ride the bus for about 8 hours on Tuesday to get there, but we had enough time to go see some of the members that I didn't get a chance to see last time. It was a lot of fun and I was so happy to see them! 
Zone Conference was great of course. President and Sister Christensen spent a lot of time teaching about the Spirit - both doctrinal information and how the Spirit is vital not only during our time as missionaries, but also throughout the rest of our lives. It really made me ponder about all the ways that the Spirit has influenced my life and I tried to think about what my life would be like if I had never received the Gift of the Holy Ghost and didn't have that constant companionship. I also thought about all the people that I meet everyday who don't have that gift and it made me kind of sad. I think sometimes it's really easy to take the companionship of the Holy Ghost for granted, but it is such an amazing and incredible gift! I left zone conference with greater gratitude for the Gift of the Holy Ghost and a renewed determination to help other people receive that same gift. 
When we got back to Pursat on Thursday, we had some good teaching opportunities as well! We were able to meet with that family that we met with last week again. It was a pretty good lesson, but only the mother and one of her daughters were there. We talked about the Plan of Salvation and invited them to be baptized. They said they will think about it so hopefully that will lead to a yes! 
We also picked up another new investigator! His name is Phannit and he is a former investigator that learned with the missionaries a while ago. He got too busy so he had to take a break, but now he says he's ready to learn again. We challenged him to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it so that's another person to look out for! 
We also had a priesthood training meeting on Friday evening. Almost all of our priesthood holders came! We gave some basic instruction on priesthood duties and I'm hoping that it will lead to greater commitment and dedication on the part of the priesthood holders in our group. We're planning on having these meetings pretty often. 
Overall things are going pretty well here in Pursat! There won't be any fireworks for the 4th of July, but I will sing "I'm proud to be an American" at the top of my lungs. Happy Independence Day everyone! 
I love you all! 
អ៊ែលឌើរ​​ មែនឌែនហល
Elder Mendenhall
Sorry, no photos this week.

Jun 26
Week 91 - Pursat: "Just Pretend That I Came Up With A Subject"
Lots of good stuff this week! The highlight of the week was Srey Nich getting confirmed and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost on Sunday. She's doing great. She's still visiting members with us and we're encouraging her to share the Gospel with her friends! 
We also picked up 5 new investigators this week! Elder Khiev and I were contacting in a village that we hadn't been to before and we met a nice lady who used to attend a Christian church a long time ago when she lived in Battambang. She had to stop though because her husband didn't like it. Well now her husband is dead. We of course are very sad that her husband is now gone, but we're also taking this as a good opportunity to teach about the Plan of Salvation and the Atonement and Resurrection of Jesus Christ! 
Anyway, we went to follow up with her and when we got to her house, all of her kids were there too! They're all in their late teens and early twenties. We taught about Heavenly Father and prayer and they all seemed to be pretty interested even though most of the kids have never learned about Christ before. They said we could come back and continue to teach them and they also said they would come to church next week! Fingers crossed! 
We also have an investigator named Jew (that's not actually how it's spelled, but I think it's funnier that way). She lives with one of our strongest members here in Pursat, Lyly. She loves the Gospel, but because of a lot of complicated reasons she hasn't ever been able to attend church. BUT in a couple of weeks, she will be able to start coming! So look out, Jew might be getting baptized at the end of next month! 
That's all for this week, but I feel like there's a lot of good stuff coming in the future! 
I love you all! 
អ៊ែលឌើរ​​ មែនឌែនហល
Elder Mendenhall

PursatWeek91-1.JPGSrey Nich's baptism last week!

Pictures from Siem Reap:

This is my friend, Sombat. He is a way solid returned missionary, and now he's the branch president! He's doing an awesome job! The Siem Reap 1st branch usually has about 150 people attending sacrament meeting on Sunday now!

PursatWeek91-3.JPGThis is Ming Ly and Pu Vanna's  family (Pu Vanna wasn't home, but I got to see him earlier in the day). Ming Ly is the Relief Society President in the branch and Pu Vanna is the Elder's Quorum President. They're preparing to go to the temple in October!
A blurry picture of Pu Ry and Ming Pov's family. A long time ago they invited Elder Kim and me over for dinner and family home evening.

Ming Socheata and her kids! Back when I was in Siem Reap, she was experiencing a lot of really tough trials, but she always relied on the Savior and now everything has worked out and her family is doing great! She is a really good example of how to endure through challenges.
I also got to see a few of the people I taught and baptized, Srey Loeun, Srey Ra, and Srey Neang!


Jun 19
Week 90 - Pursat: "Back To My Roots"
Srey Nich got baptized! It was awesome. She's really good. She even went to visit members with us and some of the other youth on Sunday after her baptismal service. I'm really excited for her. It is always a privilege to be there as my investigators get baptized! No matter how many times it happens, it's always so special. 
Things were a little hectic this week, but it was all good! My bike was broken and nobody in Pursat could fix it (nobody had the right parts that I needed) so I talked with the Assistants and they told me to get it fixed in Siem Reap! Siem Reap was my very first area (my birth area as they call it) and I haven't ever been back since I left over a year ago! So we went to district meeting in Battambang on Tuesday and from there we went to Siem Reap. So much has changed! But it felt really good to be back. I thought it would feel a little weird, but it just felt right. They were able to fix my bike and that night we got to go visit some of the members that I love! We even got to see a few of my recent converts! It was really fun and it was so good to see everyone again! It was really nice because I could actually understand what people were saying this time around! 
Other than that, things are pretty normal in Pursat! It's a lot of fun though and I think a lot of success is coming our way! 
I love you all! 
អ៊ែលឌើរ​​ មែនឌែនហល
Elder Mendenhall​

Oh by the way, no pictures this week because we're in Battambang and I forgot my card reader in Pursat​.

Jun 12
Week 89 - Pursat: "Progress in Pursat"
A lot of good stuff happened this week! Elder Khiev and were able to follow up with some of the people that we had contacted before and we picked up 3 new investigators! One of them is Srey Neat's (the little girl who got baptized a few weeks ago) and Theary's mom. I'm really excited for them. She's sat in on lessons before, and Elder Khiev said that she's even come to church before, but she never really seemed to take it very seriously. We went to their house to review and teach Srey Neat about the Plan of Salvation. As we taught it really seemed like her mom was locked in and I could tell that things were starting to click for her. I think she was really starting to understand what the Gospel of Jesus Christ was all about. After we finished the lesson, we asked her if she would accept the invitation to be baptized so that she could help her family become an eternal family. And she said yes! It's going to be so awesome! 
Srey Nich is doing really well also! We have the plans for her to be baptized this Sunday! Elder Lasswell is going to come down from Battambang this week to interview and after that we should be good to go! Things are happening in Pursat! 
One thing of note: There is a little boy here who is literally terrified of me. He lives out by Srey Neat's house and one day he and his mom came over and as they walked up I could see that the little boy was trying to hide behind his mom. I asked her, "Why is he so scared?" She replied, "He's scared of white people." Well I thought I was going to be able to change that so I looked at him and tried to be as happy and as cheerful as possible. I waved and said, "Hello!" I have never seen a child look so scared in my life. He screamed and cried and now he refuses to come anywhere near me. 
Transfer calls were last night and Elder Khiev and I are doing one more transfer together! It's going to be a blast! The first transfer in Pursat has been really good. I haven't proclaimed any false doctrine yet and I haven't destroyed the Church here so I'd say it's been a success! 
I love you all! 
អ៊ែលឌើរ​​ មែនឌែនហល
Elder Mendenhall
The adventurous road to Ly Seat's house that I talked about last week and the view behind Srey Neat's house.

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