Dear Family and Friends,
First off, I hope this email finds you happy and smack dab in the middle of the holiday season and cheer because that is not the case here in hot, humid Cambodia. The mission home is full of Christmas Cheer. There's a Christmas tree, Christmas music, all the works, so that's really fun to go into on p-day. Occasionally we'll be biking and we'll see some Christmas decorations at a store and we just have to stop and have a moment of silence, but for the most part, Christmas really isn't a thing. BUT we are planning on decorating our apartment today, so hopefully that helps bring the Christmas spirit a little more to Cambodia. Second, this email is not going to be very great. I've got a lot on my plate currently and a lot of my brainpower is going elsewhere, so bear with me. My transfer call has put a lot of stress on me, but after many MANY prayers, tears, and some motivational talks from people who care a lot about me, I’ve decided to change my attitude and really rely on the Lord. Thank you Mom, Dad, Hayden, and Michelle. I couldn't be here without you guys supporting me every step of the way.
Tuesday we had an interesting experience- cooking cookies in a microwave. Let's just say that it didn't really work out as well as we were planning, but we still ate them because you can't let cookies go to waste. (: They looked way nasty though... haha
Wednesday Sister Fields had to go to MLC, so i had the privilege of going on an exchange with Sister Semones. It was a throw back to the days at the MTC. It was fun to have a little reunion with her and be able to catch up. It's amazing how close this work draws you together with your companions. I'm so grateful for that. They truly do become "eternal friends". Wednesday night we had English class and me and sister fields taught our last minute prepared spiritual thought. Some how that managed to work out and the spirit was incredibly strong. Things are starting to click in the students' head. We taught about how a knowledge of Jesus Christ can help them. It was really cool to watch them as we taught. There's one student, a guy, probably about 25 years old, who has been coming for a really long time. He's never really had much of an interest in learning with the missionaries, but it finally clicked!! He started learning with the missionaries and has asked us to give the spiritual thought in Khmer, so that he can really get the full effect of the spiritual thought. How cool is that? The Lord's hand is definitely in the work here. Also, we had 47 students in our class and 99 over all. MIRACLE!! That has never happened.
Thursday was straight up the longest day of my life. First off our tuk tuk driver got lost... we ended up getting the "grand tour" of Phnom Penh and got to the mission home WAY late... Poor sister Suen was just sitting there. I walked in and she was sitting on the couch and all she said was "It's you! “and hugged me. We chilled at the mission home for a really long time and eventually went to get lunch of KFC. Sister Suen wanted one more lunch with her mom (trainer), so i had to go to. It was me and a bunch of Khmers... very interesting dynamics haha. I was feeling pretty good until we got home and i realized that i didn't really know a lot of people in this area. When i was serving with sister fields, we spent a lot of our time in our other area, so this one is lacking in many aspects of the work. We have a huge 3 inch 3 ring binder full of less actives that need to be found. Talk about stressful. My lack of the language is currently making it very difficult. Sister Suen is still very new (both of us have only been here 2 transfers) and she is very quiet, so she doesn't really like talking to people, but i can't really talk to people, i mean i try, but they don't understand, or choose not to understand... It makes the situation pretty interesting. Needless to say there were lots of tears shed that first night. Luckily I was in the house with sister Fields, who is my sister training leader, so i was able to talk things out with her. I just feel this huge weight on my shoulder and have many feelings of inadequacies... but like i mentioned before i have changed my attitude and am really trying to stay positive.
Friday i realized another stressor- the language barrier between me and Sister Suen. I ask her what a word means in Khmer and she explains the word to me in Khmer using about 7 other words that i don't know... basically I'm not sure how I'm going to learn this language. haha i just end up laughing cause i have no idea what she is saying... haha. I had another break down on Friday night. It's cool if that happens on a a nightly basis, right? (: I talked to sister fields and she gave me a lot of great motherly advice and we came to the conclusion i needed to call president.
Saturday i did just that. I called him and explained everything that was going on in my head and he immediately came over. I love that about President-he cares so much about us and takes action. We talked some things through. He told me that he knows that this call came directly form the Lord and that I am going to learn so much from this transfer. Sister Christensen told me that i am stronger than i think and can do hard things. He then gave me a blessing. Having them come over was exactly what i needed to get me through that day. Sister Suen gave me the cutest skirt. She said it looks better with my skin color. haha We got to go to stake conference and we talked about missionary work. It was really good.
Sunday we had stake conference again. Sister fields accidentally locked us inside... but she came and saved us, so it was okay. That session of stake conference was focused on the Atonement, exactly what i needed to hear during this point of my mission. Very good. We spent a lot of times looking though our book of less actives and then we went and contacted. After contacting we had an appointment at the church. We walked in and this girl was sitting on a bench, she looked so familiar. She was one of our less actives. I sat down and started talking to her, in my broken Khmer. Turns out she's been busy on Sunday mornings, but has been attending a different ward and when the time changes in January, she'll start coming again!!!! Miracle! She then came and helped us in our lesson. Such a cool experience.
I've decided that I’ve got to take things one step at a time, maybe one day at a time, maybe one hour at a time, but if i look at this transfer as a whole, it will make things even more difficult than it needs to be, but if i break it up maybe it will be manageable. Also, finding miracles in everyday is going to be key. Relying on the Lord is the only way I’m going to get through this... So as i rely on the Lord, i encourage each of you to do so as well. I know that we all are going through something difficult in our lives. Sometimes we may feel completely alone, or inadequate to do the task at hand, but the Lord knows us to perfectly, far better than we know ourselves and he knows that we can do it. Never forget that. The love he has for us is so real and as we try with all our heart, might, mind, and strength, he will take us by the hand and lead us. I love this gospel so much. It brings so much joy, peace, and happiness into my life. We are so blessed. During this Christmas season, think of Christ, his humble birth, and how he can bless your life if you let him. I love him with all my heart. Teaching his gospel is such a huge blessing!! Love you all. Thank you so much for all the prayers. I can definitely feel them.
Sister Zoe Loftus
Sister Loftus and Sister Fields
Sister Loftus and new companion Sister Suen
Sister Loftus in new skirt from Sister Suen