Dear Elder Slavens

Dear Elder Slavens

Elder Dallin J Slavens Cambodia Phnom Penh

Elder Chancellor J Slavens Idaho Twin Falls

Monday, January 26, 2015

Basically already a pro at the MTC. NBD.

Whelp, howlee-doodily everybody! This week has been cray cray! Honestly. Tbh. I mean, to say the least, first week in the MTC was not what I expected at all. For some reason I thought it was going to be sunshine daisies and butter mellows. But it has honestly been pretty flippin hard. Like, talk about roller coaster of emotions. We've had people brake down because Cambodian is frustrating (not me, of course), and we've all been super excited at some points because we just randomly will get it. The hardest part for me is planning lessons for our fake investigator, Bong Phoan. He's awesome. He's really my old Cambodia teacher from BYU, Tyler Mickelson. So it feels weird calling him Bong. 
My companion is named Elder Lamborn. He's from Honeyville, Utah. He's super tall and has super stinky feet. If he reads this, it's cool because we've already addressed how bad his feet stench. Pictures WILL be attatched. He is like a big teddy bear and he has really picked up the language. Working with him is so great. 
My first day was awesome because I walked in and for the first 45 minutes my fly was down and I got lost and needed to be guided back to my room by a helpful old lady. So I was basically as newbie as you can get. Reconnecting with my Swig-buddy Sister Sheffield was awesome because she lost her name tag in the first 5 minutes. 

Now about some of the other members of my district: Elder Johhny Ros is my favorite. He is Cambodian, and so weird. We are normally the only two laughing at things that don't make any sense. Elder Gardley is black and says the funniest things. He named me and Elder Lamborn "Elder SlaveBorn". So that's our new name. To everyone #official . The district is 14 people big, and it's only the new Cambos. My ZONE is larger, and has all the Viets, Hmongs, Cantonese, Thais, and Laos.  If only Elder Reagan was here. When I showed up everyone knew who I was and ran at me screaming "ELDER DARK MONEY!!!" because Elder Reagan told them all about our geo-ventures. 
Gym is everyday, and I am a master at bolleyball. I held a spoon in my hand the full hour of gym, and the only time I lost was when my lucky spoon flew out of my hands. 
I really don't wanna make this too long, so I'm gonna rap up here. Basically, the MTC is an amazing place. It's more magical than Disneyland and Hogwarts put together. The spirit is so strong here, and I love being surrounded by so many people who love The Lord and want to serve him so bad. Everyone here are such great examples to me, and I have already grown spiritually so much. I have learned that when hard times come, prayer is your most useful tool. 
I hope my email was enough for all you crazy people! Email me and let me know how to make it better! And because I want to hear from you people! I love you all!!! 
Love, Elder Slavens

Seeing Elder Trammell off at the airport 

Our friend Kara Trammell volunteered int the MTC and ran into this guy!

My super baller district 

Me and the greatest Utahn companion anyone could ask for 

​What happens to me when Elder Gardley gets fed up with me 

All the Aryans going to Asia

Khnom sralyn Sister Sheffiled

My Week Was Better Than Yours

It's true. Unless of course you yourself were visited by an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. 'Cause I totally was.

I KNOW, RIGHT??? This week, we had a mission conference in Twin Falls in which Elder M. Russel Ballard of the Quorum of the 12 visited us and taught us some things that I'll not soon forget. He was joined by Elder Nash of the 70 and together they straight up knocked all of our socks off. This is probably going to cover the vast majority of what I will talk about today, so if you don't want to hear about Apostles you can leave.

WOAH I found these cool emojis why the heck have I not been using them? <1C4.gif> <1B6.gif> <B5E.gif>

Anyway. I'mma try to summarize this, 'cause they talked about so much cool stuff I thought I might die, and I don't want to hurt you guys. Elder Nash was the first to speak, and I'll be 100% honest, I was kinda thinking "C'mon man, I wanna hear Elder Ballard talk, get down!" But boy was I wrong. He started by asking us three questions: 

1. "Why do missionaries wear nametags, and why are the nametags so important?" There was some really great discussion about how our nametags separate us from the world, and they show to everyone that we truly do represent Christ. I mean, how can we not? His name itself is on our badge! Hopefully that shows the world something! I'm not a cashier, or a waiter. I'm a representative of the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ and there is definitely a difference. I need to act accordingly!

2. "What does it mean to be a representative of Christ?" Elder Nash taught us that our job is not just to knock on doors and baptize people, but it is todo and say everything that Christ would if He were here. This led perfectly into his final question.

3. "What would Christ be doing if He were here in the Idaho Twin Falls Mission?" Holy dang that makes you think, doesn't it? Definitely made me think. Elder Nash shared some verses from 3rd Nephi chapter 11, about the coming of Christ to the American continent, and he asked us to consider what He did there, and how that might translate to Twin Falls if He were to take a trip to the potato state. We concluded that if Christ were here, He would testify of Himself and His father, and would invite the people to make covenants and choices that would lead them back to Him. So naturally, that's what WE should be doing! I thought that was way cool.

AND THEN Elder Ballard stood up and proceeded to spout pure gold for and hour and a half. For real. I'll try and make this quick. No promises. <35D.gif>

He started by telling us that enthusiasm and excitement make for infectious and contagious desires to work. If we can wake up, on time, with a big smile on our face and high hopes in our heart, our day will play out accordingly. But if we let ourselves be angry and grumpy, we can be sure that's how our day will stay. He then moved on to the relationship that faith, knowledge, boldness, and fun all have with one another. Here's the recipe: Faith is what drives this work. As we increase our faith and receive revelation, we gain a sound knowledge of gospel concepts. Knowledge leads to confidence in ourselves and in the restored gospel, which in turn helps us to be bold. If you're confident in what you're saying, you're comfortable with being bold in saying it. When we're bold enough, we can't pass peeps on the street without sharing the gospel with them. And as we follow that pattern, soon enough we'll just be having a blast day to day sharing what we believe with others. Pretty cool. According to Elder Ballard his grandkids get all embarrassed of him all the time 'cause he's always trying to talk to people in restaurants and whatnot about church. That's pretty chill.

Okay, here's his final point I'll share 'cause I'm getting carpal tunnel. But he gave us a solid amount of time to ask questions, and I took advantage of that like HECKA quick. I asked Elder Ballard how I might more fully put off the natural man, because that's something all of us struggle with. He looked right into my soul and I felt one of the craziest feelings ever. My hear was going THIS fast, and yet I felt so calm and at peace. He talked right at me for like 10 minutes and it was just a really cool moment for me. He explained that as we lose ourselves in the service of others we forget the natural man and are just more happy in general. We're spiritual entities learning to live in physical bodies, not the other way around. I thought that was so cool.

Anyway, I'll wrap up my thoughts there. But probably my favorite part of the whole deal was the very end. He got up to leave and turned to President Curtis. He said, "Well, now you need to deal with them. I get to go home," then he turned back to us and said, "Adios, amigos! Hasta luego!" And then he was gone. I almost died I was laughing so hard. Respect.

So yup, that's what happened to me this week! And I'm dead so I'll cover other stuff next week. Have a wonderful week and don't forget who you are! Baiiiiiiii.

Elder Slavens <1E3.gif>

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Elder Slavens in the MTC

A great friend Kara Trammell volunteered at the MTC and she saw Elder Slavens.  She sent us this awesome video.  Thanks Kara!  We love it.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Dallin's future friends

Dallin made a Facebook group trying to find as many people as he could that would be going to the MTC and Cambodia with him. They found a pretty good group!


Taking Elder Slavens to the airport

Elder Slavens flew out of the Oakland airport at 6:30 am to go to the Provo MTC.  It was so early and we were all so tired!  It made it easier to say goodbye because no one was really awake.  We all said our goodbyes without any tears!  



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Cambodia is rich with history and culture, with a friendly and humble native population. The official language of Cambodia is Khmer (which is sometimes referred to as Cambodian). Most Cambodians are part of the Khmer ethnic group, though there are Vietnamese and Chinese minorities. While only about one percent of the population identify themselves as Christian, religion is prominent and Buddhist beliefs and practices greatly influence many aspects of cultural and daily life. Traditional clothing such as the krama (a checkered scarf) and the Sampot (a type of rectangular cloth worn around the lower body) are distinctive to Cambodia. Popular art forms include silk weavings, ceramics and stone carving. Such art forms are seen in the large Buddhist temple, Angkor Wat. Dancing is also quite popular in Cambodia, with a variety of classical, folk, and social dances performed at different events. The Cambodian people enjoy soccer, the martial art forms of bokator, pradal serey, and Khmer traditional wrestling.
In the 1970’s Cambodia was the place for one of the more brutal and lesser known events in history. The Khmer Rouge was a communist revolution group lead by Pol Pot, who committed mass genocide and was the ruling government party in Cambodia from 1975-1979. The Khmer Rouge closed schools, hospitals, and factories while completely isolating themselves from foreign influence. They created a totalitarian society, banning religion and any form of education. The Khmer Rouge fled Cambodia in 1979 after relations with the Vietnamese collapsed. There were many battles but the Khmer Rouge fled and The People’s Republic of Kampuchea was established. Many believe that the acts of the Khmer Rouge are a main contributing factor to Cambodia’s current state as a third world country.
Vietnam currently has three branches: one in Hanoi, two in HCM City and there are currently 14 missionaries serving in these areas. They are all Vietnamese from either Vietnam and the US and cannot wear their name tags or participate in traditional proselyting but the work is flourishing and the branch is growing stronger!


The gospel is spreading quickly throughout Cambodia. The Church is frequently building new meetinghouses to replace rented out old buildings. The amount of tracting required varies area to area, but collaborating with the Branch Presidents to focus on missionary work can bring forth great results.
The South District Center is located in Phnom Penh and is where the International English-speaking branch meets.
The South District Center is located in Phnom Penh and is where the International English-speaking branch meets.
Because such a high amount of the population identifies with Buddhism, most of the investigators’ concerns will be centered around the worry of shaming their families by converting to Christianity. Most of the Cambodians you will teach are very poor, so paying tithing is another common concern.
There are currently 5 districts and 24 branches in the mission.


Rice is served with all meals in Cambodia, often with freshwater fish, a soup, and seasonal vegetables. A fish paste known as prahok and various spices are also used in many meals. Most meals you will be served include a soup and a type of grilled meat. Some of the cuisine is more adventurous, so you may get to test your palette with dishes such as snake, chicken feet, dog, pig’s head, cockroaches, crickets, tarantulas, and ants.
Phnom Penh Noodle Soup
Phnom Penh Noodle Soup
Many missionaries choose to make stir fry when preparing their own food because it’s simple to prepare and easy to transport.


Missionaries most likely ride bikes or walk. When traveling to a distant town many missionaries will ride in carriages pulled behind a moto (motorcycle/scooter). Depending on the length of travel buses may also be used.
Moto in Phnom Penh with a cart attached to carry passengers.
Moto in Phnom Penh with a cart attached to carry passengers.


With the recent election, many Cambodians are rioting in the belief the votes were doctored. However, this issue is temporary and missionaries are not involved. Other than that, the traffic can be crazy because drivers tend not to follows the rules of the road. It is recommended to look both ways before crossing any street.


Manners and traditions are held in high regard in Cambodia. Before going into homes, remove your shoes to show respect. When you meet someone for the first time, it is proper to place both of your hands together, especially when meeting a person older than yourself. Cambodians truly revere the elderly, and to show this, they never make themselves taller than older people. If they are sitting down and you walk by them, you are expected to bow out of respect. Custom is even more prominent in the more traditional towns, where the women will not eat until the men have finished.


To accommodate the hot and humid weather, be sure to pack bug spray and a bandana or sweat rag. Also include a rain poncho for the rainy season.
The shoes that you bring should be easy to remove, and many opt for sandals.
Your US money should be in bills no larger than $20.00 to make exchanging money easier.


There are no house addresses in Cambodia, so everybody goes to the local post office to get their mail. Mail travel to and from Cambodia typically takes about two weeks but it can take as long as several months.
Flag of Cambodia Phnom Penh Mission


 President David C. Moon

PO Box 165
Phnom Penh
 Khasi, Vietnamese
 14.9 Million
 Tropical, 70-90° F.
 Phnom Penh, Ta Khmao, Siem Reap


What items were hard to get or not available?
“Most things were available if you went to the right stores in Phnom Penh. Up country, no packaged meats, no jello, no cake mixes, but most things were available.”
What is the craziest thing you ate?
“Octopus legs. Some of our missionaries ate fried tarantulas.”
What was most surprising about the culture?
“The most surprising thing for me was how many things or people could go on one Moto (a small motorcycle) I loved the friendliness of the people. They have beautiful smiles. The traditional skirts of the women at weddings is beautiful and I also loved the everyday traditional skirts that many wore. I also love how the people accept you and love you the way you are. I love their pioneer spirit.”
What advice would you give to someone going to this Mission?
“Accept the people and culture for what they are. Immerse yourself in the mission and remember that Heavenly Father loves all of his children everywhere and you are doing what Christ would do as you minister and love them.”
What do you wish you had known before you served?
“I wish I would have known how much we would love our missionaries, the members, and investigators. Also I wish I would have known how much Heavenly knows His children wherever they are.”
“If learning a language, I would have Faith in the Lord in learning it. I would trust that my Mission President was called of God. Remember that Heavenly Father knows you and loves you.”


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Dallin's setting apart

Dallin was set apart to become a missionary today.  He is now officially a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  He was set apart by President Stone our Danville Stake President.  He gave Dallin a beautiful blessing.  We are so proud of Dallin!  He is so excited to go on his new adventure.  We are blessed to have so many wonderful friends who support and love us.

Kelly Harp, Rachelle Herring and Kara Harp

Bishop Herring (past), Bishop Barlow (present), Peter Kruger (priest quorum advisor) 
and President Stone

There were lots of emotions and tears.  We will all miss Dallin.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Daaaaaaang, What Even Happened This Week. Uhhhhhhhh.

That's kinda what my week has been like. Fortunately I have more time this week to put my thoughts together than I did last, so this one should, if nothing else, be a more interesting read. Prolly.

On Tuesday I went on an exchange in the glorious city of Challis, ID, which is pretty much the most in the middle-of-nowhere place I can name, beside perhaps Carey. This exchange turned out to be a real adventure 'cause that area has recently been whitewashed, not with just two new Elders, but THREE. Thus, during that exchange there were 4 missionaries stomping around town, which is never a good thing. Anyway, it was a pretty chill exchange. We taught this one super politically-involved woman who would relate any gospel topic we introduced to politics and somehow start talking about presidents and legislatures and judges and blaaaaaaah for like hours until we found a nice spot to bring it back in. That was an adventure in and of itself.

Our area's doing super well right now and we're pumped to be a part of it. We're well aware that it has basically nothing to do with us, once again, but it's really nice to see the fruits sprouting up. Like I said last week, we have a couple really solid investigators with baptismal dates that are just on SUPA HOT BURNING FAYA. We first have Lonny. He's so ready to be baptized. Lonny knows what's up. He's your typical cowboy, and in the past lived your typical cowboy lifestyle. He used to ride bulls and win huge tournaments and head to the bar afterward and party 'til he was purple. But he's made a big flip - he still rides bulls, but in celebration he now returns home with his wife and they read together from the Book of Mormon. Pretty cool stuff. He has a date for the 31st of this month and I think he couldn't be more pumped about it.

This past week Lonny took us out onto the ranch he works at and had us help him feed the calves. Holy moly I've never seen so many baby cows in my life I thought, I was gonna die. It was pretty chill 'cause we rode out onto the field by way of sleigh pulled by horses - the old-fashioned way. I thought that was pretty cool. So yeah.

Our other FAYA investigator is Bryan Wood. He's going through a break-up with his wife and this time in his life has brought him to some serious reflection. He wants to do everything he can to make sure he's on God's side, so he asked us to come teach him. I think that's pretty cool, don't you?? Just a cool dude. We set a baptismal date with him for the 14th of February - Valentine's Day. Kinda weird date, I know, but when the Lord tells you to set a date for Valentine's Day, you set a date for Valentine's Day.

Anyway, that's what up at the moment! I'm about to have one of the most eventful couple of weeks in my whole mission life, so I'll prolly have lots to write next week. Stay tuned, fools! Have a great week and never forget that Jesus loves you! Muah!

Elder Slavens

On the sleigh with mah burrs.

Elder Chase buck that hay.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Dallin's farewell party

Dallin wanted Cambodian food for his party.  After many hours of searching the web for recipes, help from La Reagan on how to cook asian food, several trips to asian food stores and lots of cooking it was all a success!  We made amok,  prahok dip and lots of veggies.

Kelly helping the boys make banana leaf bowls for the amok.  Things got a little smelly boiling the prahok (fermented fish) to get the flavor out and leave all the bones behind.

Awkward Family Photo with Lela and Danica

Kasenchaks gave Dallin a sweet bike journal, a bike bell and bike wheel lights!

David Crinnion flew in to surprise Dallin.  Rachelle Herring, Kelly Harp, Kara Harp and Oren Abrahams were there for him.

Oren, Donna, Nancy, Kara, Kelly, David, Rachelle and Brianna

Whitney, Dana and Brittany

A succuss at the Littles!