I wouldn't say that the part about me wanting to be Asian is entirely accurate. The following day after district meeting, we had a potluck lunch at the Westovers and made fruit pizzas for dessert, so we were talking about real whipped cream versus Cool Whip. I said real whipped cream is better (that's what we were using) and Sister Westover said I must be farm girl. That's not entirely accurate either, but it reminded of the time my 7th grade world history teacher said that the more he learned about me and my family the more surprised he was that we actually lived in town. My parents house is just barely in town though - you could throw a rock from the house to the wheat field - and the yard is mostly garden, fruit trees, and raspberry and strawberry patches. In Dad's letters, he tells me almost every week about the progression of harvest and putting up the harvest. The cantaloupe-sized tomatoes and 2200 plums picked between conference sessions sound incredible. I gave the spiritual thought in our last zone training and talked about harvest and how if I every started to miss harvest season back home, I just remind myself that I have 15 months of harvest season here on the mission. (Take that, Thay Tuan! When I was trying to figure out how to say 'gathering of Israel' in Vietnamese, you asked why I would ever need to say that as a missionary; well, it's basically what I do as a missionary, and I needed that phrase when I was giving that spiritual thought in zone training!) I love the language and the people and the food here and would rather be here on a mission than anywhere else doing anything else right now, but I'm glad I grew up on the Palouse. I'm just flattered that Chi Ly thinks that even though I have fair skin and red hair, I must have Asian blood. I think that was a better description than wanting to be Asian.
Sorry. Back to the durian story. I did really, really, want to try durian. I already knew I liked durian mooncakes, durian cream cakes, the Vietnamese durian-banana-peanut candy wrapped in rice paper, and durian ice cream, but none of those are the same as having the actual, unadulterated fruit. Everyone talks about how strong it is and how they can't eat it or can eat it only in little bits at a time. I was a little nervous but still really excited to try it, and this week I had my chance.
I officially love durian. On Saturday afternoon when we were on our way home for lunch, we decided to use the last of our money for the week to buy one so I could try it. We bought the smallest one we could find, but it was still about two pounds and took all the money we had left except for my last 1800 real (less than fifty cents). The fruit seller cut it up in her lap and wrapped it for us, and as we put it in Chi Ly's basket on her bicycle and started to leave, we discovered Chi Ly had a flat tire, but we no longer had any money to fix it and we were really hungry, so we just took our durian home to eat. We ate the whole thing in one sitting and it was awesome! Chi Ly said it wasn't even a good one though because it wasn't ripe, but I still loved it. Chi Sophy is in Vietnam right now, and Chi Ly is going to have her grandmother send a couple good durian fruits back with her so I can try a "good" durian.
Then we spent the rest of the afternoon biking all over Phnom Penh with Chi Ly on the back of my bicycle. It wasn't a normal day of proselyting either because there's a holiday underway and there has been a mass exodus from the city. No one was home. We couldn't find anybody to teach. No one was answering the phone. Everyone forgot about our appointments. Instead of biking to one house, having a lesson, and then biking to another to have another lesson, we were biking from one house to another to another to another and not stopping to teach because no one was available, so literally spent the afternoon hauling Chi Ly around Phnom Penh. We had lots of fun though. The greatest of our adventuring was when we decided to go contacting along the railroad tracks near the church. We walked and walked and walked, dragging my bike over the tracks, getting biting ants in our shoes... We talked to Cambodians - as much as we could with our few Khmer words - but didn't find any Vietnamese people even in the places where the Cambodian people thought there were some. Maybe they just weren't home. Then we found this empty, dusty, gravel lot which turned into a road, so we decided to get back on my bike and take it wherever it lead. It was full of potholes, so we bounced and jolted down the road (with poor Chi Ly sitting on the wire rack on the back of my bike) along a big wall enclosing some sort of very large undeveloped space. The pot holes went on and on and on, and then the road dumped us out right down town. It was like we had fallen in a wormhole. We went from disintegrating shacks, through an expanse of nothing, to the Dragon Building. So we headed north to check another investigator's house (she wasn't home) and go to the church again (hoping one of our recent contacts would come for Sister Westover's piano class), thus making one huge circle and not finding or teaching anybody - but not for lack of trying.
Chi Ly rode on the back of my bike again on Sunday as well as this morning until we could get hers fixed on the way here to email. This morning I took her all the way to the King House where we and the elder met up with a few YSA from the branch and chased pigeons and played hacky sack by the front gate at 6 AM. This was our exercise for p-day. It was certainly a unique experience and so much fun!