Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Christmas in Cambodia 2015

Dear Family and Friends, 
I hope that Christmas was a magical time and you guys had a very very merry Christmas. Christmas in Cambodia was not what I was expecting at all, but it was one that I will never ever forget. So many things happened that just don't go together with "Christmas", but in Cambodia it just made sense. It was interesting how everything played out. I'll go into more detail about our festivities in just a second. (: But first a recap on my week. 
Monday I had an interview with President Christensen (I just almost typed President Christmas... haha you can tell what's still on my mind.(: hahah) and he shared too much with me. I loved it!! It's so clear that he is supposed to be my mission president. He is definitely receiving revelation for me and for all the other missionaries in this mission. I know without a doubt that he was called by God to lead this mission. We only had one lesson on Monday. It was with our investigator, Ming Saruen. She is the sweetest neak ming. She always has a smile on her face and is always so willing to learn and listen to us teach. As I was teaching her about the restoration I felt the gift of tongues working through me more than I have than ever before thus far on my mission and boy was it the coolest feeling ever. I loved it. As I was talking she just got the biggest smile on her face and said "sister, I love hearing the sound of your voice. Will you keep talking?'" That was something I had never heard before. It kind of took me off guard. Usually people tell me that they can't understand me, but man, it felt way good hearing her tell me that. I just got way happy and just keep preaching the gospel. (: Awesome, right? 
Tuesday was very interesting. We went to District Meeting and watched the performance of the Mormon Tabernacle choir with the Muppets. haha I was way confused, but was laughing at all their little jokes. It was quite Christmassy. I loved it! I'm sure the Khmers, at least the ones who stayed awake, were way confused. I just had to laugh at that. haha that's what they think Christmas is all about- people singing with these giant puppets. haha. Close, but no quite. (: We then went out to lunch for sushi. It was SO GOOD. Just a little side note, my family loves sushi and every time they would go to get sushi I would tell them that I didn't like it and I would get something else... really I had never actually tried it and had no idea if I liked it or not, but I just didn't like trying new things, so I just never tried it, but I figured since I was in Cambodia I might as well try it, right? And I am so glad that I did. It was delicious. Then I had the amazing opportunity to go on an exchange with sister Haddock, sister fields new koon (gon), her new baby missionary. This exchange took place because sister fields is our sister training leader, so she goes on an exchange with all the sister in our zone. I was really really stressing out about this because she's brand new and I’m still pretty new too. I can't really understand people or really say what I want all the time, but I had been praying for strength and help. We went out and started teaching about Christmas. It was so cool to be able to finally teach about the birth of the savior. We planned a very powerful lesson that focused on the atonement. We taught 2 lessons and the second lesson took a turn I wasn't really anticipating. It was with a less active that used to be a really solid member, but then her family didn't have enough money, so she had to start working on Sunday and now doesn't have time to come to church. She just opened up about all of her concerns and usually I can't understand her to save my life, but I understand everything she was saying. HUGE MIRACLE. Me and sister haddock were able to bear very powerful testimony of the love heavenly father and Jesus Christ have for her and that as she relies on the atonement she can overcome all her trails and hardships. Then it started raining... what? so random. It's not the raining season and it hasn't rained for weeks, but it was another huge miracle because it gave us the opportunity to read in the book of Mormon with her. Such a powerful experience. She said she hadn't really had the desire to read, but we read with her in 3rd Nephi chapter 18 when Christ comes and institutes the sacrament. She was filled with the spirit. SO COOL!!!!!
Wednesday we got stuck at the railroad tracks. You guys don't really understand the railroad tracks until you've been there, but it's way sketchy. There's just trash everywhere and everyone is just always sick, but that's where we got stuck. Stuck how you might ask? Well let me tell you... my bike lock wouldn't unlock... We stood there for a good 30 minutes trying to get it unlocked... finally I decided to call the elders and they came to our rescue. They brought lock cutters, but ended up sawing it off with a very sketchy rusty saw. If anyone had gotten cut with that saw they would've had some huge problems... haha but I was finally free, so off we went. 
All right... enough about that. I'm running out of time and nothing else really happened. Oh, real fast. We have lost two investigators this week because they moved out of our area, so we literally have no work to do. We get to go meet less actives that don't want to meet us, but we are trying our hardest to contact and find some new investigators. (: 
Time for a Cambodian Christmas. (: Are you ready? Christmas eve, when we got home from proselyting that day, we cranked up the AC, got on our sweatshirts, popped some popcorn, and watched Mr. Kruger's Christmas because what's Christmas without that movie. It was so fun to watch sister Soeun watch it and try to make sense of it. She didn't really understand... but that's okay. Christmas morning we woke up and Sister Fields made us pancakes. They were so delicious. We rocked out to some good Christmas music, opened some presents, and then had personal study. We went to IBC (international book store) in order to buy some Santa hats to prepare ourselves for Christmas. Please note that whenever we were on our bikes we were singing Christmas songs at the top of our lungs and wishing a merry christmas to everyone we passed. (: We then met our elders at the church and put together some fruit baskets for our bishoprics. Our elders serve in Tuol Kork and Tuek Laák, so me and sister fields were able to spend Christmas together after all. We got the fruit all ready and after taking way too many selfies... we went on our way. We caroled all day. When we first started singing that first song, I was so overcome with the Christmas spirit. I loved it!!! They reactions were priceless. They didn't really understand the whole caroling idea, but they could still feel the spirit. It was kind of hard to carol because everyone's houses are just open, but when we went to the bishop's house we were able to knock, start singing and then just wait for them to come to the door. The bishop's wife, ming sophaa was the one who came to the door. In order to fully appreciate this you kind of have to know her, but she just stood at the door (it's a glass door, so it's see through) and just watched us sing. When she finally opened the door she was crying and said that she thought we were angels. She is the sweetest. She said how excited she was that we came and then the bishop started singing silent night with us. It was way fun. (: After caroling we went and got lunch at a phsaar (market)- me chaa. It was way delicious. Unlike any Christmas lunch i've ever had, but still way good. You guys should be way proud of me. I've taught myself how to semi-successfully use chopsticks. (: Also, Elder Slavens, one of the sweetest, most hilarious missionaries I’ve ever met paid for all of our meals... He said it was on the house as a christmas miracle. Too sweet. Then we went to the church and sister Souen was able to call her family. That was way fun to watch her face light up as she heard her mom's voice. It's cool for her because she's the only member in her immediate family, so she really has a huge missionary opportunity in front of her. After she talked to her family we went to our Christmas party. It was sad not getting together with all the missionaries in the mission, but it was still pretty good. We walked in and the room was so Christmassy red and green everywhere. We each got a Santa hat and a bag of candy. We had dinner. We literally had everything under the sun. It was so so so delicious. We watched a mission slide show. That was so fun to be able to see other places in the mission. At the end of the slide show there was a segment called the fruits of our labors and all the pictures of the baptisms from the last year were in there. That was way fun to see all those pictures-especially the pictures from my two baptisms. (: We then had a talent show. It was so fun. I've never laughed so hard in my life! We were supposed to watch the Christmas devotional, but we ran out of time, so we just had a quick testimony meeting. It was the most powerful testimony meeting I’ve been in since girls camp. Something about missionaries and the Christmas spirit that made it so powerful. One elder talked about how the lord doesn't send just anyone to Cambodia. He sends his strongest soldiers. I believe that with all my heart. Everyone serving here is so strong. The strongest people I’ve ever met. I'm so grateful I get to call them my family and work side by side with them. One of the biggest blessings. We sang one last Christmas hymn and closed the party with a prayer. We then cleaned up- we stretched that out as long as we could so that we didn't have to go home quite yet. (: After it was all cleaned we went home and finished opening our presents. My mom hooked me up real good with tons of DVDS. I am set for the rest of my mission. Also, way good cereal and snacks. I love my family. Even half way around the world they give the best Christmas gifts. (: But the best present came on Saturday when I was able to Skype home. That was the best to see their faces and hear their voices. Truly magical. Thank you modern technology. I'm not going to go into a lot of details, but i realized that things really haven't changed that much since I’ve left except for the fact they now have a dog and the fact that Hayden and Michelle are engaged, but it helped me realize how short 18 months is. I'll be home back with them before I know it. I've got to really start focusing on the work here. Serving with all my heart might mind and strength. Basically, I love my family more than I have words to express and as fun as it was talking to them, homesickness hit me way hard after I ended that phone call. I just started bawling. I won't go into details about this either because I’m sure you guys are all so sick of hearing about my problems, but let's just say I’m still trying to get past those blues. I'm trying to remember the times where I’ve been filled with love for the people and really feel like I love my mission, it's hard at times, but I really do know that this gospel is true and this is where I’m supposed to be right now doing the Lord's work. Thank you all for all your support and for the prayers said on my behalf. I can never express my gratitude. You guys are so amazing. THANK YOU!!! I pray that as this New Year begins you can really refocus your sight on the Lord and this gospel. It truly is the only way to find lasting happiness in this life and in the life to come. I know that with all my heart. LOVE YOU ALL!!!!!
Sister Zoe Loftus 
Double D

Sister Loftus realizing she likes sushi

Sushi group

Sawed off bike lock after being stuck at the railroad tracks

Sister Haddock, Sister Loftus, Sister Suon, and Sister Fields

Sister Fields surprised by the flash of a camera

Lunch with the group

Sister Loftus and Santa

All the sisters!

Sister Loftus Christmas day with her presen

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