Sister Loftus mentions a holiday in Cambodia called Pchum Ben (Khmer: បុណ្យភ្ជុំបិណ្ឌ; "Ancestors' Day") . October is the month when Cambodian people celebrate the festival of Pchum Ben. Together, with Khmer New Year in April, Pchum Ben is the most important festival in the Khmer religious calendar. Pchum Ben is a religious holiday and a time when many Cambodians pay their respects to deceased relatives. You can read more about this holiday online; it is very interesting.
Dear Family and Friends,
Goodness. I have lots to say, but unfortunately the keyboard I am currently using has a bum space bar, so it's kind of difficult to type a lot. We'll see what I get out before I get too annoyed with it.
Monday- this was an interesting P-day. We went to a restaurant called Mama's and i got myself a delicious grilled cheese sandwich. Whoever said you couldn't find American food (maybe no one said that, maybe i just made it up) in Cambodia was wrong. You just got to know where to look for it and trust me us American missionaries know where to find it.(: after lunch we went to a Khmer Rouge museum and it was the most depressing thing ever. It is at this old high school that they ended up turning into a concentration camp type place when everything took place... it was very dark and dreary. They had pictures of all the prisoners and had some of the devices used to torture them. I did not like it. It was sad and didn't have that much information about the actual Khmer Rouge, so it just left me wanting to know more with no where to get the information... It's so crazy to think how recently it happened and no one did anything about it. It just broke my heart. One of our less actives told us her story and when she was forced out of the city she was the only one from her family of 11 kids to survive. She was forced to go work in rice fields and then when they were allowed to come back to the city she walked for 14 days without shoes back to the city. It just broke my heart to hear that and to think that everyone we come in contact with on a daily basis was affected by it. Absolutely heart breaking. But on a happier note. I bought a cross-stitch. Yes, i am officially an old Khmer om (grandma). I gave in. and i am addicted. haha. Monday night we somehow managed to make delicious no bake cookies with limited ingredients and cooking utensils; they were DELICIOUS!!!!
Tuesday- the language got me down today... like way down... we finished eating lunch and i just lost it... it was bad, but sister fields managed to pick up all my broken pieces and put me back together again. She's amazing. I don't even think she knew what she was saying, but it was exactly what i needed to hear. "This work isn't easy because salvation isn't a cheap experience." She was having an interview with President and he said "The only thing that matters to you is Sister Loftus". so i mean that is pretty comforting, right? I am the only thing that matters. (; NOT!!! I mean to some extent, but our investigators are so much more important and that's exactly what i learned. After wiping the tears off my cheeks we went and taught Srey Neng, Kit, and Srey Pov about missionary work. Once i lost myself in the work and really focused all my time, talent, and abilities on teaching them, I realized just how joyful and fun missionary work can and should be. We shared Alma 29:9, a classic missionary scripture, with them and as they read it I just started crying, completely overcome with the spirit. I was then able to testify of the happiness that comes through missionary work, serving our brothers and sisters, and serving our God. Even thought my Khmer is still very broken, the Holy Ghost was able to expound what i said and testify to them as well. They were able to feel of His love for them. Ah, this work is so amazing!!! I love it. (: We went and taught another lesson on Joseph Smith (I am currently on a Joseph Smith high, I love learning about him. He has done so much for all of us and i can't wait for the day when i can meet him, shake his hand, and thank him!) it was very powerful, but she said she is "too lazy “to come back to church...AH, so frustrating. How do you force someone to have the desire to start living the gospel and receive countless blessings? You can't... you have to remember that they have their agency and just keep showing your love and Heavenly Father's love for them. Patience is definitely a virtue that i currently am learning the hard way. As we were riding home from that appointment we were followed not once, but TWICE. Are you kidding me? I was freaking out already and then sister fields started freaking out. You know the situation is bad when your trainer can no longer play it cool and starts freaking out.. I didn't know what we were going to do when all of a sudden sister field takes a quick left turn, so quick i almost lost her, but low and behold OUR ELDERS!!!! Such a tender mercy. We are serving in the same two areas as these elders, but we NEVER see them while we are proselyting, so i KNOW that Heavenly Father placed them there to save us. We went home and to comfort ourselves we made french toast and watched Mountain of the Lord, another classic movie everyone should watch at least once. (:
Wednesday- nothing happened today...sorry!
Thursday- We made a weird chaa... we had tomatoes that we didn't know what to do with, so sister fields decided to put them in a chaa with eggs and pork. Let's just say it looked like barf and didn't taste too much better.. haha. Now we know tomatoes are a no go for chaas. haha after that fun experience we went and taught srey neng, kit, and srey pov about temples!!! MY favorites. They were all so interested. I loved it! Srey Neng said that she wants to get married in the Salt Lake temple and i told her that i'll be there when she does. Oh, how i hope she gets married in the temple and raises her own little righteous family! They can't say Loftus, so they've just started calling me Sister Loft, which i absolutely LOVE!!!! Sometimes it sounds like they say sister Love and then they say sister feel for sister fields, so feel love, yeah? I'm feeling it. (: After that lesson we were getting ready to leave and the bishop's wife, Srey Paw appeared and bought us food... let me just tell you that it was barely edible. it was a soup with noodles, snake, with the skin and scales still on it, and coagulated pig blood.... ah, i did not know how to eat that. I physically couldn't get myself to. I ate the noodles and tried my best to avoid the other things. Wow! so crazy what they eat... After we taught a lesson/just read the book of Mormon with one of our new investigators Srey Leap. She is a sweetheart. She asked me if i knew how to play basketball and i didn't really understand her question, so i said yes, so now she is expecting me to teach her how to play. If any of you have seen me play basketball....let's just say it's going to be very interesting. The spirit was very strong and she said that she felt really happy when she read! YES!!!! and then she thanked me for my effort in trying to learn the language. She said that i was really good and she then proceeded to say the most heart felt prayer where she asked heavenly father to soften her parents heart and give her permission to continue learning with us. She’s 17, so we have to get permission in order to baptize her. When She gets back from the holiday we'll see what they say. Fingers crossed because she's golden! While we were teaching that lesson it started to rain and then just kept raining until the streets were flooded. We traveled home in knee-deep water. It was no joke like biking through an ocean. The cars would pass us and would send huge waves, almost knocking our bikes over, and then occasionally you would get something wrapped around your foot or leg, just like seaweed. It was quite the experience and by the time i was home, I was drenched from head to toe.
Friday- We had zone training where we focused on obedience, language study, contacting, and diligence. It was really good, but i won't bore you with the details. (: We got lunch from Mike's Burgers and it was so good. I'm a sucker for a good burger, even here in Cambodia. (: That's about it that happened on Friday.
Saturday and Sunday- CONFERENCE!!!!!! and it was even in English. BLESSED!!!!! I love conference so much. You guys already watched it, so i'm not gonna say very much about it because that would be repetitive, but there were so really really good talks. I loved Elder Holland's about mothers. Made me think about my own mom. All of you know her and know how amazing she is. She is Christ like and loves with her whole heart. I am forever indebted to her for everything she has done and will continue doing for me. Shout out for her because she deserves it and because she just had a birthday. I love you mom! (: How blessed we are to be apart of a church lead by a living prophet that communicates directly with Heavenly Father. What a privilege it was to see the calling of three new apostles and to hear the love and respect everyone has for President Packer, Elder Perry, and Elder Scott. They are amazing men and left a legacy we can all learn from. It was incredible to see the themes that came from this conference. Each talk tied into the one before it so perfectly. The Lord really is directing this church and this work. I love it so much!! Being a missionary is the biggest blessing of my life. After conference we were able to go to a family home evening. Man,i love the members here. They are so loving. It was so much fun and the perfect way to end conference weekend!!
If you didn't have the opportunity to watch all the sessions of conference, get on LDS.org RIGHT NOW and watch them. It will benefit your life so so much. You will get a personalized message from the Holy Ghost. I promise!
Sister Zoe Loftus
Delicious no bake cookies-So proud!
The view in Cambodia, so beautiful!
More Cambodian food. Maybe the food Sister Loftus couldn't eat?
Sister Loftus loves the children in Cambodia-adorable Cambodian girl
Soaking wet after riding a bike in a Cambodian rainstorm.
Life as a Sister Missionary!
Can you see the rainbow?
General Conference as a Cambodian Missionary
Ghost town because of Pchum Ben holiday.