Sunday, July 10, 2016


Choosing to write words
about a language transcending experience
may be an arrogant move

When I walked into the yard,
The Khmer woman grabbed her pink hat
ready to go out or to stay in
Granddaughter reaching up for a spiky fruit
Trio of pigtails dancing
Daughter crouches deferentially
but grins when I meet her eye
A rambutan falls but no one sprints to pick it up
Only the cow noticed, which surprises me
She seemed like the oblivious type
at least, she had only batted one large eyelash
when I intruded into their world for a few minutes.
No one else said anything at all-
except as I left,
I bowed with an earnest "Thank you"
it was not enough for what they gave me

I've always had an image of silk road traders
meeting on the road
gathering piles of goods
and then turning around
ricocheting back
but I'd never thought about what they said
the culture exchange
Maybe just pointing
Or maybe a thank you

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Pepper in Kep

Note: Kind of back logging here- if you want to read first draft stream of conscious thoughts, read onward!
 Still pretty much at a loss for words about Cambodia. New favorite part of my trip (besides my awesome internship): a butterfly farm in Kep. This weekend, all 6 of us interns took Friday off and left early in the morning to go to this beach town called Kep. It’s famous for crab and pepper, so we ate a lot of that. It was a 3.5 hour ride to Kep where we went to our hotel- another little beach resort run by a Frenchman named Olivier. It was on the hill right above the water and right next to the market. 
We took that day and watched crab being caught, ate lunch in a restaurant built over the ocean, went to the beach (the water is warm like Hawaii, but it doesn’t get deep unless you go out really far), I read my book on the beach, we got homemade cookie butter ice cream at a little shop, talked to locals,  explored this monkey palace.

 In the evening, we went to the market and I ate BBQ fresh squid. 
Then we went to sleep early (kind of: I still had to prepare my YW lesson for today.) so that we could get up at 5 to go hiking. We were staying right by the national park with this gorgeous trail. Every turn had an amazing view, and the path was really well maintained. We kept running into silkworms and flowers and little waterfalls. Near the middle, there’s another little path that leads into the valley. It downpoured for 5 minutes while we were coming down the slope, but then it was perfect weather for our butterfly farm trip. Seriously the coolest thing. We walked into an enclosure and were surrounded by butterflies of all different kinds. I think my favorite was one that sort of looked like a monarch, but it was blue instead of orange. I could have stayed all day. 

After that, we hiked down, got some popsicles and a tuktuk ride back by 9:00 am for a great breakfast of omelets and pineapple juice. During that, it started pouring rain and it didn’t let up. So our island-going plans weren’t going to happen. Instead, we worked out something with two taxi drivers to take us back to Phnom Penh, but on the way we got to stop at a pepper farm to watch the whole process of growing red, white and black pepper. Did you know that pepper makes you sneeze because of a preservative in it, not because of pepper? So organic pepper doesn't make you sneeze. We also stopped at this super cool cave that’s a shrine to Buddha with all these awesome spelunking locations. We had 20 kids showing us around with their flashlights and memorized English phrases. The cave is the mouth of the dragon.

Sunday, we started early. Katie and I got invited to the school ending performance of our host family’s kids for Harrod’s international academy. They did an awesome coconut dance. We left and got to church with plenty of time to talk to everyone. I love this branch already. Super cool people from Nigeria and Japan and the Philippines and here in Cambodia and the US and France. Testimonies were so cool with people from every single walk of life. Teaching YW was also amazing- there were 3 girls: Hillary from Phnom Penh and her best friend Sprite who’s not a member and then 13 year old Henrietta from Nigeria. Katie joined us and all 5 of us just talked about baptismal covenants and how we can follow Christ more fully. It was a really enlightening and awesome kind of learning together. 

More to come.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

I'm in Cambodia

For ten days, I've been in Cambodia. I'm working as an intern for the Malaria Consortium on malaria and dengue related projects. Katie and I live in a beautiful home with a member family, next door to an apartment with the other BYU interns who are all working at different public health internships. I ride my bike to work everyday- definitely wearing a helmet. We use a combination of American money and Cambodian riel. Those are the facts as they stand, but they don't really communicate that this experience is so cool!
I'm going to take the "1000 word" approach for now, but more reflective pieces are definitely coming.
We found art on our morning walk.

It's the BYU tuktuk!

Of course, I dragged everyone to the bookstore.

Cambodia FHE

 This is my new favorite picture. In the Ministry of health. With the construction. And the giant Aedes Aegypti mosquito.
Our host family took us to give out backpacks at a village school.

 I was way too excited to be out in the provinces and living like I lived in the Philippines.


I was trying to come up with truly descriptive adjectives for these last two weeks, and I'm a little bit at a loss. English has all of these positive adjectives that all mean about the same thing. Bisaya's nice because you get one or two words and then you just use it frequently. Nindot, chada, yep.
It feels big, great, grand, special, all of the above.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Last Email!

Dear family and friends,
I’m feeling really grateful. I was trying to get my thoughts together
to bear my last testimony at zone conference last week and the
overwhelming impression that came to me that I can only be grateful.
I studied Timothy this morning. I want to be a lot more like Timothy.
He’s so trust worthy and diligent and like Paul says, he doesn’t seek
his own. I also like the older fatherly Paul who’s really wise.
Ah, so many wonderful things happened this week. We’ve been incredibly
busy and we had exchanges with 3 sets of sisters. I love new
missionaries. And old missionaries. They are changing so much in their
We taught the Conde family this week- they’d been discouraged in
sharing the gospel and we felt we needed to go there. We read about
Abinadi and how Alma was the only one who even listened.. The look on
Sis. Conde’s face- “Wait, and he’s the Alma…!” I love the moments when
we get the plan a little better.
And Sis. Bateman and I had a moment where we were teaching this old
nanay that God loved her and we sort of expected the same responses,
and then it was half in Tagalog and we got confused. We didn’t know
what to do, so we prayed! And as Sis. Aguido prayed she broke down
into tears. As she looked up, she said, ‘sisters, He listens.” I will
never ever ever get tired of hearing people pray for the first time
for real.
We found Sis. Ate. I think she’s the one. She’s a kindergarten
teacher. Oh, I love her. She needs to come to church.
I gave a talk on Sunday about the filipino favorite- Lehi’s dream. I
used to laugh because it’s the first story, and usually the only one
they make it to (1 Nephi 8 lang gud!) But it’s become one of my
favorites, because it’s really true. The Agirs were beaming. I love
them. Hold to the rod- and it will bring true joy.
We keep finding more members of the Sabihon family. God has something
great in store for them.
My companion got shampoo in her eye, and it was this beautiful
companionship moment where we had to hold her eye open under the water
for 20 minutes. She is one of my favorite people in this world.
Like Paul reminds Timothy, we can continue in the things that we’ve
learned and been assured of, but essentially we must know of who we
have learned them (2 Tim 3:14). I certainly didn’t learn anything of
myself here.
I know it’s from wonderful companions. I have had the privelege to
serve with 10 of my sisters. I know with all of my heart and head and
dughan that God knows exactly what he is doing when he assigns
missionary companionships. And people truly can be instruments.
I’ve learned from wonderful leaders- not everyone gets to have 2
mission presidents, and I count myself lucky. Both President Schmutz
and President McCurdy have left indelible examples of faith and
But of course, I’ve mostly been tutored really gently and sometimes
not so gently by the Spirit of God in the medium of prayer and
2 Tim 1:7
7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and
oflove, and of a sound mind.
I read this the other day in a Liahona when I felt stressed.
This is from Alma Taylor, one of the first missionaries in Japan who
baptized no one and taught few lessons.
“It is the unique testimony of all the missionaires of our church that
their missionary days are the happiest of their lives… They hold such
testimony as a priceless pearl.”
I do expect that many more happy times are going to come and so I
won’t exclude that. But I just add my testimony that this is a
priceless pearl. I am incredibly happy.
This week, I’d love your prayers for the 8 investigators that we’ve
goaled to have at sacrament. It’s going to take all our effort, but I
know we can do it! And for the success of our branch activity- Siaton
is really really coming together.
I love you! Kitakitz… Pyr!
Sister Tueller

Friday, November 14, 2014

Gasa from Amahan sa Langit

Dearest family,

Everyone's life sounds wonderful. Your words are helping me and the people in Siaton. 

Sis. Rosita is one of my favorite people in the world and eternities. She has grown so much while I've been here. We went to her house this week and she was very distraught because one of the Elders' recent converts wasn't coming to church and she didn't know how to help. And she has memorized basically everything that we've ever told her. She's the best fellowshipper in the branch. We were about to start our lesson and I asked her about her baby cow- it's so adorable! and she goes 

"Oh, Gasa ni Amahan sa Langit(Heavenly Father)? he's eating grass."
We got really concerned because as much as she loves her God, we probably shouldn't be naming our cows after Him.
But we also just couldn't stop laughing at how wonderful she is.
But don't worry, his real name is Gasa or Gift. She knows she's not supposed to be using sacred things as she told me like, Why didn't you know that? She just likes to remember that this cow was given to her because she paid her tithing. I need to be more like Sis. Rosita. Her tooth was sick and she asked Sis. Cabrera to pray for it as we started and then 2 mins later she said it was better because of her faith.

We found more really cool people this week!
The best part has been that they all live really close to our members. It's reinforced my testimony that Father knows our times and our bounds. He's putting people in the places that we need to be.

Bro. Aaron is doing so well. He's a 19 year old college student studying education and struggling in his family. We've been teaching him for a while, but this week, he started asking the questions. I can teach the apostasy over and over agian, but when Aaron asked, "why are there so many churches?" that was when he could really get an answer. Ask and ye shall receive. We have to seek before we can find.

Cheryl has reached a point where she's not really progressing. She has class on Sundays and so we're at a heart breking time. But again, Heavenly Father knows our times and bounds.

I love my mission. I have never been so happy. I love the Book of Mormon. We explained that book so many times this week, and I know that if they'll just read it- they'll get it!

We had a service project and we planted trees that will grow in 12 years. There's a parable. It was muddy and slippery and we had the best time. 

I love my Savior! And all of you. Thanks for being the best.

Sister Tueller

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Are you really happy?

I've been thinking a lot about daily miracles this week. President Uchtdorf's talks from this conference and last: being grateful in our circumstances, and seeking spiritual light have really settled on my mind. We can be grateful for pure gospel light in any time. And we can't see far enough into the galaxies to know why these circumstances are good for us, but we are grateful because there are stars and we know that they mean something more. I know that daily miracles is the way to get through any trial in our lives. 

Happy Halloween diay! And Happy Birthday to Dad last week, and to Gracie girl this week!

Siaton is teaching me. I'm applying what I call "practical optimism" which comes closer to true faith than practicality or pure optimism alone because it encompasses planned action. 

The people here are doing so well! In Siaton, I think we've been blessed with more new investigators than I've had in any other area, and then they sometimes don't progress, but we don't stop believing in them. It's still so exciting to enter someone's house and sing "I am a Child of God" and really see them as a child of God who he needs and wants in His church and I'm somehow lucky enough to be an instrument in doing that.

We found this family, across a rickety bamboo bridge who is so ready for the gospel. The Sabihon family sat in awe while we told them about truth, not just anything that someone tells us. Bro. Roland is a computer repair man, Sis. Jinky just had a new baby, and we need some strong families and a new clerk who knows how to use a computer here in Siaton. 
Plus all of their neighbors want to listen and are looking for truth. 

Of course, with sucess comes trials. Sis. JingJing is choosing to listen to the voices that tell her not to leave the religion that she's used to and so she isn't ready now. But the seed is there.
Bro. Santo has also gone back to alcohol :( a bunch of their family came down from the mountains and then that was it.
But Cheryl is doing well. We talked about repentance but I'm not going to say we taught because she taught us. Sis. Cabrera and I just looked around- she had explained all the steps of repentance that we learn in Sunday school- because she understands.

I love my companion Sis. Cabrera. She is so refreshing and loving and a missionary and I love working with her.
We also worked with our senior couple the Henrichsens yesterday. They were such good sports and I saw that testimony has no bounds. That was the gift of tongues in action. We taught the Tinguban family at this big house that we always pass, but we've never been allowed in- miracle of having a nice American couple with you! And we thought that they might just say, "We're Catholic, but we'll listen" In fact they did, probably 5 times. But then, Bro. really understood the apostasy and sat up a little and said, "Then what?" Sister and Elder Henrichsen told him the amazing story of Joseph Smith and he sat back a little with a smile. "He saw Heavenly Father, didn't he?.... Come back on Saturday. We'll study this."
They would be so good for Siaton

We taught the Agir family. I feel like we gave them a telescope last night. No one had ever really explained to them why we go to the temple- it was just something we should do and it's really pretty. So we talked to them about the highest level of the celestial kingdom and we asked them if they were happy. They are much happier kono now than they  were 3 months ago when they didn't go to church. But they think that they could probably be happier if they went to the temple. Please pray that they'll have a way to do it! I love Bro. Junie and Sis. Leoncia. 

Here's some wise advice from Preach My Gospel (specifically about how to work with ward (okay, branch) leaders, but it's a pretty fix it all formula) : Develop a "How can I help?" attitude. 
Don't you love that? We don't look at the problems and say well, that's too bad. Or say, "Here let me fix that." And we don't just ask, "How can I help?" and then walk away. But we live it! We make it our attitude and the thing we search for everyday. I've been trying it in my prayers and it's incredible. How can I help Heavenly Father today?

I know He has something for each of us. And he loves you. I'm really grateful. More next week!

Sister Josie Tueller