Sunday, July 14, 2013

Last Email and Pictures from Airport Home

Well if feels weird that this is finally coming to an end. Current feelings; I don't really know what to feel like, it doesn't really feel real. It's kind of hard to literally do the same thing every day for 2 years and then try to tell yourself this week I will stop. I'm not quite sure if it really is possible to make yourself realize something like that. It's also kind of weird working on learning a language for 2 years, and almost having to throw it away after this next week, haha. Not too many needs for Khmer speakers in America. Maybe ï'll get a job at the MTC and be able to continue to use it a little.

How this week went. Well i kind of just went around saying goodbye to people. I couldn't even believe how many people cried knowing that i was leaving. It was so humbling. I was telling every one to make sure to go to church to see me speak for the last time, and rather than the normal of 90's we had 128 at church, haha. That was cool. President Moon was also there. He went up to Battambang to train and interview the 7 families that left for the temple Sunday afternoon at 5. He came up after me and said i did a really good job and he glad he able to be there for that, and hear me speak. So i felt like that was really nice of him to do that.

Honestly this week went by so fast I don't even know what to say. It was literally a blur. All i can say is i felt so loved here by the members, and i'm definately going to have to find a cheap, efficient way to call them here, or they are going to be sooo angry. 1 member said they would go inactive if i didn't call. Funny, yet scary at the same time . 

For my final talk, i talked about the second coming. Because i told them it's never certain the elders will come back again, or if i will, but it is certain that Jesus left, but he will come again. It was so hard to not cry, i kind of did. I just want to bear my testimony like i did there. I know that Jesus will come again. He lives. He will come to this Earth again, to reign with power and glory. He will destroy the wicked, He will Sanctify His kingdom. He will judge us in the end, and it will come down to whether or not we followed the great 2 commandments. Did we love God, and did we love our brethren? In the end, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ. I know this church is true and is the Lord's kingdom on the earth. 

I love you all so much and can't wait to see you and talk to you all. see you soon!

until we meet, Elder Rucker

Monday, June 17, 2013

Angkor Watt and Father's Day

June 9
Hello everybody. This was a pretty great week.  Quite fast to be honest. It's a little sad though because Sister Tsuchida will be emergency exchanged out of Battambang to go to serve in the city. I don't know what happened in the city but I guess president decided he needed her there. If i've never told you before Sister Tsuchida is from Japan. She is super cool. She learns khmer and english. I don't know how she does it. So she will be missed.

So this week:
Monday-Wednesday. We went to Angkor Watt! It was super fun to go around Angkor. I was able to go with my companion, Elder Brittain, as well as 2 other people from my group, Elder Mitton and Elder Lor. It was lots of fun. I have definately picked up a lot of souviners this last bit of my mission, that's probably all i will be bringing home.

After that things were pretty fun. We went around teaching normal. 1 good story and 1 bad story.
Bad first. So we went to that investigator Choeun again. He said he was going to go to church.. again. He said they are going to go because monday they are going to have to go far away to work so they are going to make sure to go this sunday. Sunday comes and he actually went to the members house to drive the tractor. That's when i called the member and they said yeah he showed up to drive it. So i called all the members to tell them to get ready in order to go to church. 20 minutes before church starts and the members call and say hey elder the tractor hasn't gotten here yet. I call the members back and they said Choeun went back home. I have no idea what happened and he either shut off his phone or it was out of battery. So lame.

Good story. Our investigator Thida is doing great. It's been fun because while teaching her (which we do at the branch presidents house) we teach 2 inactive recent converts and the wife of the branch president (who isn't the strongest) and it hasn't strengthened them all and they all are starting to come back to church and be active. This last time we went to see her, the branch president took our picture book and opened to the picture of lehi's vision, and showed it to Thida and said is this the picture? She said yes, she said she had never seen that picture before but saw all of it in her dream. She also mentioned how she was on the building (the pride building) we were able to help her understand it a little and let her know what she's doing is right, that this is a sign god wants you to be baptized. She is learning really fast and is very excited. I wish i could have her read the vision but she can't read. Luckily though we were able to get her to ask her husband to read it for her (who has learned before). Hopefully some day he will learn too.

So that's life in Cambodia. I love you all so much. I know this work is true and is the work of the Lord.

June 16
Hey everyone. Decided to switch internet places and look! sending pictures worked. sweet. So first of all happy father's day dad! I hope it was a good one. I don't remember what they do in America but here, it's a full on program, the whole thing is dedicated to fathers. This usually consists of last minute speakers (usually youth) a special musical number (by the youth) and then the fathers came and stood in the front while all the youth gave them each a gift. Haha, so that's how father's day works here. I missed you but it wasn't that big of a deal, because i'll see you in 2 weeks. This was honestly the fastest week in the entire world. I don't have any idea what happened to it.

In worldly news, have you guys heard any news about some sort of big storm going on in China or something? That's at least what they are all saying around here. If that's true it must be crazy because we are getting some rain from in and it has rained so much these last couple of days it's crazy. Stuff is already starting to flood. It's really weird biking around now, all those places that used to look super dry and dead are going green. I have to try to find an old picture of when it was dry and take a picture of it now to send to you guys so you can see how crazy it is. 

So this was a pretty fun week. Wednesday was an interesting day. We only ended up going to 1 house out in Kampong Preah. The house with all of our recent converts. We had a really good lesson on repentance. Before we left however the older one, maybe late 40's, literally started to wrestle with me. She is honestly so strong i was tired from wrestling with her. haha. She is so crazy. Friday was another fun day, I was way too ridiculously tired though. I went on an exchange with Elder Pettit (District Leader) that day, and the night i was there we were up until 12 talking. Not a good idea when you have to wake up at 5:30 and proselyte in the cambodian sun. Especially since we had service that day from 10-1 cutting fire wood. That was fun though. I'm glad now i know how to cut stumps up into firewood. I'm not kidding i could seriously survive in the wilderness no problem now. 

This week was a great week. We are helping our investigator Thida prepare for her baptismal service this Saturday so hopefully that works out. She is having lots of great questions and learning really fast. Which is super surprising considering she can't read. Elder Brittain and I are getting along great and we are having a lot of fun serving together.

I can't believe i only have 2 more of these emails.

I love you all so much, Elder Rucker

Thursday, June 6, 2013

As of Lately

May 27
So I just got off the 7 hour bus ride to get down here to Phnom Penh. Yes it's my last time here in the city. That's weird. I just got done shopping at the Russian Market where i bought a couple of movies and a little souvenir or 2 as a gift. It's really funny in fact. I was going around to all the shops i always went to or took people too, and 3 of them even gave me some free stuff as a going home present. I got 2 little scarf things and a free movie. It was great!

Monday was tons of fun. We went and rode the bamboo train. Really not that great. Nothing too special with the bamboo train. However, I am glad that i have ridden it. It was a good 'ol Indian Jones ride. It was fast, and rickety, and you felt like you could die at any moment. We were literally on our way back and the brake fell off of our train. That's how sketchy it was. But it was alright. It was fun. We met a lady at the halfway point they stop at (where they sell all sorts of stuff for the foreigners) and the lady thought we were the coolest people ever because she knew khmer. I was telling her we had to go and she almost starting crying she was so disappointed. She just wanted somebody to talk to so bad. That night we did a good 'ol Family Reunion which consists of singing, praying, sharing a story from Jesus Christ's life, a couple of rounds of Hot Potato until everyone's faces get drawn on, and then drink soda until you are sick. So much fun.

Tuesday we went to Siem Riep for a special conference with Elder L. Whitney Clayton, Elder Wilson, President Moon, and their wives. It took the whole day and you are going to think this is weird, but it was disappointing. He didn't have anything prepared to speak about it seemed like, so he opened the whole 2 hours for Q&A. The most fun part about it was the car ride with all the Battambang missionaries packed into a van.
June 2
So this week was a pretty normal week. We were able to start meeting with our Recent Converts and investigators again. One of the biggest problems that we are facing right now is that the tractor is no longer coming from kampong preah (our far place) to take all the recent converts to church. The driver got in a huge fight with his wife, borrowed money from the branch president, etc, which basically means he is too embarrassed and doesn't feel like coming to church anymore. Our last hope for anyone to drive it to church was our investigator Chouen. We went to his house in order to meet with him Saturday. We showed up and the wife instantly says "sorry Elder we are going to have to lie to you" (meaning they can't go to church Sunday). The husband finally shows up and his countenance says i don't want to meet right now. We were able to share about Abinadi and Nephi (in a non official lesson setting) then we were able to give him a blessing since he was sick with a fever. It was the most spiritually strong blessing i have ever given. We left leaving him clear blessings of church attendance, and a bold commitment. His countenance was changed when we left, and you could see the gears running in his head, thinking about going to church. The story was great, but unfortonately the outcome was calling him Sunday morning to get an answer of "sorry Elder we can't go to church today". It was such a sad morning. That day we ended our fast with a prayer for them, as we know that we will not be able to go meet them anymore since it takes a whole night with Elder and Sister Yeates when we can teach more people closer to the church in Ordambang where 4 families didn't come to church. Its always sad to see that happen.

I'm so grateful for the opportunity that i have to serve here in battambang, i'm working hard and there is nothing to worry about.

Love always, Elder Rucker

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Last Transfer and a Crocodile Farm

Well so things are starting to really come full circle for me. Firstly, while in an English Class meeting (organizing our weekly free english classes) we were talking about an upcoming event called showcase night. It's an opportunity for the kids to be able to show what they have learned over the course of 6 weeks, to show talents, and to have fun. It's a finding tool we have to have a fun activity for people to come to the church and participate and have an opportunity to tour our church and meet the missionaries. It sounds great, but that is exactly what doesn't happen. It's always low attendance and only members. I have no idea why, but that's not the point. The point is because this transfer is only 5 weeks (something with the influx of missionaries all the missions get cut one week to go back on schedule or something i don't know) there will not be one this transfer but the next one will be July 3rd. I was like wow, i will not be participating in that. It was so surreal. Secondly, my last transfer calls came in last night. Crazy. I found out that I will have 2 grandchildren. Elder Meyers will be training, and Elder An will be training. I'm so proud of my kids. So it's official, i will be living with 2 kids and a grandchild, oh this will be fun. That, however, means Elder Stanley will be leaving, whom I will miss a bunch.

This week was a pretty fun week. I was able to go on some exchanges. 1 with Elder Meyers and the other with Elder Gooch. However the highlight of this week was the fact we were able to go to some crocodile farms. I have picture i will try to send. So we go to this crocodile farm with hundreds of crocodiles. It was crazy. How it works is you go up these stairs onto this concrete lattice of cages and pools to hold these crocodiles. Sometimes there is railing but most of the time there is not, and these crocodiles are absolutely huge. Falling in was absolutely a real possibility. We were luckily able to go at the same time that they fed the crocodiles. So imagine 50 starving crocodiles smelling dead fish, knowing it's eating time. They all start coming out of the pool. They are literally starting to crawl on top of each other, about 3 crocodile high piles now, preparing to feast. Then all at once they start dumping in the bags of fish. It was the scariest/coolest thing i have seen in a long time. Something you don't get to see very often in a lifetime.

We were also able to help build our recent converts chicken coup some more. What took us 5 hours to do, we did in 2.5 now. And we did twice as much. All because now i know what we are doing and i'm getting better at it. It took us 5 hours to build 1 wall last time and this time in 2.5 we built 2 walls. I feel really accomplished.

It was also nice, since i left my area for a day because of the exchange, to have all the members say how much they missed me and that it wasn't any fun when i was gone and that all the members are going to miss me a whole bunch. I tell them i only have 6 weeks left and they make it seem like i'm leaving tomorrow, but it feels like forever to me :-p.

I love serving here and i'm glad i will be staying with Elder Brittain for my last transfer here. I'm having a lot of fun and i'm got better this last week. I feel my energy and appetite coming back. I know that this is the true church, and this is the work of the Lord.

Love always, Elder Rucker 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Leadership Conference and Plowing rice fields

Hey everybody!

Monday and Tuesday were completely committed to going to the city for the missionary leadership training conference. I was quite honored to be asked to teach there. The main part was actually my own. President also told the AP's to not spend the time coming to battambang this transfer for exchanges because he is not worried about me at all. So i felt very complemented.

So like i said monday and tuesday were mission leadership training. We rode back (we being elder brittain and myself) with Sister Tsuchida (japaneese) and Sister Kacher.

Wednesday was normal. Thursdsay was cool, normal. Friday was the zone conference. Saturday was normal. Saturday was pretty fun though beecause i was able to translate for president moon when he interviewed the district presidency. So that killed most of the day, but it was super interesting. I have had so much experience working with church leadership it's crazy. I feel like i have been a branch president for 2 years. I am super grateful for all the training i have been able to personally have from textbook training to hands on experience to tons of examples of both the good and the bad.

This week i was able to plow a rice field. I drove one of the tractors that they have here. I felt like a real farmer doing it. I dare your dad to find a job for me that is harder than that :-p . That's how real farmers do it, haha i'm just kidding. It was so suprisingly tiring though. You would be plowing and you could feel yourself getting tired, especially while doing it in that super hot sun, but then you stop and sit down and it kicks in really bad and you almost feel sick. it was so tiring. I'm proud to say though that the member said of all the missionaries that have ever helped him, he said i learned the quickest and was the best. so yeah whats up.

We were also able to help people destroy their wooden house and rebuild it, as well as cut some bamboo down a build a chicken coup for one of my recent converts. I tell you what i feel like i could totally dominate survivor. If i was on that game i would either dominate or get voted off super fast because i'm so good. I can cook rice in a pot over coals, fish, build stuff out of bamboo, i would be able to live so easlily with all the stuff i have learned on my mission.

I'm very happy, I'm healthy, I love serving the Lord. Thanks for being so supportive. 

Love always, Elder Rucker

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Training Again and More Pictures

So transfers calls are in. To be honest I totally forgot that they were even coming. We didn't have President Moon's number saved in our phone for some reason. While i was busy taking numbers he tried to call me like 3 times and because i didn't recognize the number i thought it was some weirdo khmer person trying to call me so i ignored it thinking i'd call it back when i was done. Well i finally answered it and it was President Moon. haha. A lot less weird or intimidating to talk to President now then before after i've been AP and talked to him every day. But yes he has officially asked me to be a trainer. I'm really excited to have the opportunity to train again.

Another cool thing is that Elder Stanley's new companion is going to be Elder Meyers. How cool is that. My old trainee, in the same house as my new trainee. And next transfer Elder Meyers will for sure train because 10+ more people are coming. So i will be in the same house as my grandchild :-p. So funny.

This week was a lot of fun. My companion and I personalities are really different but for some reason we mesh really well together. He is one of the most fun companions ever. We have had a lot of fun just going around and meeting members. 2 funny stories. 

1. We had a family home evening on Monday. It was so funny to watch those people play hot potato for the very first time. They were going crazy. That's my favorite game to play with them. You start the little speaker playing that i bought and have them start tossing this foam ball around. You stop it, then that person gets baby powdered or drawn on or a piece of tape on the face. They start screaming and yelling and loving it. They are honestly the most easty people to entertain in the whole world just because they are so bored all the time. Then it's time for soda. A cooler with a huge block of ice in it. You dump in the soda. Then everyone uses their cups to scoop it out. So unsanitary. haha.

2. We biked all the way to our far area on saturday and because there aren't any places to get food we packed a lunch. Leftover spaghetti. We started eating it at some recent converts house after they invited us to eat lunch with them. We didn't finish it all so she took all the leftover sphagetti and ate it. She is so crazy.

I realized this last sunday one my my favorite lessons to teach, is simply sharing stories from the life of jesus christ. It's just hard to remember that they've never heard them. They don't know where Jesus was born. They don't know Mary rode a donkey to Bethlehem. They don't know the story of jesus healing the lepers, casting out the sinners from the temple, etc. I love sharing the stories. I was teaching the 2nd hour in church and just starting going on all the pictures in the picture book and explaining them. After 40  minutes i stopped and asked if they understand, if they'd like to read scriptures, or if i was talking too much. I realized they were all glued to the pictures and the lady said no it's so entertaining (addicting is the word she used) and told me to keep going and not stop. I love Jesus Christ. I love his example. I love how awesome of a God he is. He is perfect. He can do anything that he wants. He will never offend anyone, do something wrong, or let us down. He is so amazing. I'm so proud to be able to represent him and introduce people to him. I love being a missionary.

Love, Elder Rucker

We bought tons of sugar and put in the koolaid mix and turned our entire 5 gallon jug into koolaid. Haha

Sunday, April 7, 2013


This week was overall a pretty good week. Things got a little crazy but it overall turned out pretty good. This was the very first week, during my whole time here in Battambang that I have not had a baptism. However, there has still yet to be a week where there are no baptisms. We will have one this Saturday which is pretty cool though.

So Monday was a fun p-day. We all went shopping, i finally got a suit made (currently underway) and we went to swensen's and all got earthquakes (the biggest thing you can get there, $10, and its 8 scoops of ice cream) it was crazy. Elder Nelson ate 2. The next morning he woke up with a 103 degree fever. Turns out he got an ameba. So he went instantly to the hospital while i went to the zone leader conference by myself. Then they sent me back on the bus back to battambang by myself. 7 hours. I was never going to do anything wrong, it's just that i had that thought. Holy crap, i'm by myself, i could literally do anything i want and nobody would ever know. Í'm glad i made it safe with no problems. I met some funny people though.

Then i served here with Elder Stanley and Hem until Friday (Elder Nelson came back). So frustrating not having a companion. You can't do anything. So i had to try and set up members to go with me to proselyte which was a little challenging  It was fun though but i'm definately grateful that Elder Nelson got better so fast and was able to come back.

So on Saturday we biked out to our super far area to meet with the members for the first time in a while because of the sickness. We get all the way out there and it turns out everyone was headed to the church to attend the celebration of the birthday of the Relief Society. So we got to ride the tractor back to the church. So a little explanation about the tractor. It's this tractor that a member owns really far away. Nobody can go to church out there (transportation) so there was a member found who knew how to drive that tractor (it has no brakes) so they started getting it to drive all the members to church. Now there are almost 40 people who ride that tractor to church now. I can't really tell the story that well over email, but it's just a total miracle that they can all make it to church. The driver was inactive. The tractor is from the family that just baptized, etc.

So another great week in Battambang. I cannot believe that tomorrow is Elder Nelson's last day of proselyting. After then, i will officially be the oldest missionary in the Phnom Penh Cambodia mission. President came down this last weekend to train the leadership up here and to do some interviews. It was nice of him to come.

This week was absolutely amazing. I felt like i participated in a miracle. Every area had baptisms of Sunday. There were 11 baptisms! It was such a miracle. I think the picture that I'm sending home is the coolest picture ever, especially since there was a handicapped person getting baptized too. 4 of the past 5 weeks we have had baptisms, it's absolutely crazy. However, now we are almost left with nothing so we are going to have to do some finding. The good thing is we have tons of recent converts to work with. I think if we do it right, we can get those recent converts to get their neighbors or family members involved with the lessons to get them to prepare for baptism. I have already made a list of a bunch of people i think could start learning. So i don't plan on contacting random areas or spending too much time trying to get people to learn. Rather we will work hard to get the recent converts to fulfill their responsibility as a missionary to share it with their relatives and members to keep the work going here. We have so much work to do here it's crazy.

 I'm having so much fun on my mission and I am so excited for the work i have to do. I love you all so much!

Elder Rucker