Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Most Americanized Thanksgiving Cambodia has Ever Seen, with a side of transfer calls!

Dear Family and Friends, 
Life is too good here in Cambodia. There is much to be thankful for. SO much. I will go into more detail when i talk about Thanksgiving, but for now let me just say how grateful i am for the sacred opportunity and privilege i have to serve my Savior Jesus Christ and the people of Cambodia for 18 months. There is nothing better than waking up each morning, putting on my name tag, and going to work. But we can't forget the Atonement of Jesus Christ. None of this would be possible without it. We need to access the Atonement everyday of our lives, whether that be the cleansing power, the enabling power, or both. We need the power that comes from it on a daily basis. Along with the Atonement comes the knowledge of being with our families forever. How grateful i am to be able to live with my incredible family forever. One of the biggest blessings in this life. I love them so much and everyday I'm away from them my love and gratitude grows. They are each such amazing examples to me and i look up to each one so much. 
Monday we went to this restaurant called Blue Pumpkin. It was good, expensive and it took forever, but it was good. I got a turkey sandwich that had sweet potato fries on it. Very very good. (: We then went to the "riverside". It has palm trees everywhere and literally looks like you are in California. It was messing with my mind a little. It would've been a little more relaxing if the river didn't smell and there wasn't trash floating in it, but such is Cambodia and i love it. The walkway is lined with flags from all different countries. That was pretty cool to see and think of all my good friends serving the Lord around the world. We played some more phase 10 with Sister Uresk and Sister Young and called it a day. We went to a FHE with a less active family. It was pretty good, but the excitement happened after the FHE. We were talking to one of the members of the family, a 17 year old girl named Banyaa ( I'm pretty sure I've talked about her before), and she was asking us questions about missions and then very shyly said that she has been thinking about serving a mission lately. What?? So cool. We then had the awesome opportunity to share our testimonies about missionary work. We were able to talk about all the challenges we face, but also all the joy that comes from sharing this gospel with others. Seeing someone accept the gospel and start living a better life by following the example of the Savior is such a wonderful opportunity. As I sat in that lesson I was able to think about my mission and how much it has already changed my life so much. I have learned so much and have definitely been changed for good. 
Tuesday Sister Fields and I, bought some soccer jerseys. When we played soccer a couple weeks ago on pday all the sisters had these way cool soccer jerseys and i wanted one, so i've decided to buy a soccer jersey for each area that i serve in cause who doesn't love soccer jerseys, right? Also, it made me feel very Cambodian because EVERYONE here wears them. They are very cheap and lightweight, very conducive for the Cambodian lifestyle. I wanted to buy a Cambodian one, but couldn't find one so it came down to a Brazil one or a USA one. I thought about how proud my dad would be if i got the Brazil one, but my heart told me to go with the USA one because #merica. I love it so much. We then had a great lesson with one of our investigators Naiky. She made a comment like "when i become a member..." and sister fields and I just looked at each other and gave a little fist bump under the table. 
THANKSGIVING!!!!! I don't think i could have had a more Americanized thanksgiving if i had actually been in America. We woke up and went on our own little turkey trot (tradition of sister fields). We went on a little run and as we were running we passed many houses that people were just sleeping in front of either in a hammock or on the wooden table things and i became very aware of the huge blessing that my house is- both here and in America. So grateful for that. We did studies and then headed over to the mission home because sister fields had an appointment. We had interviews with President and then we got to help sister Christensen make all the food. Oh my goodness. It was so fun. She put us in charge of the mashed potatoes and making a homemade apple pie. I think i cooked more this thanksgiving than i ever had. Don't worry mom, when i get home i will be of great help. Sorry for not helping out in the past. (: We had to much fun just talking to her about our lives, getting to know each other a little better, and sharing way fun thanksgiving traditions. After we cooked and prepared all the food, it was time to eat!!!! Man, it was delicious. Like so good. We had the works, turkey, stuffing, Jell-O, potatoes, everything you could think of. After we ate we all went around and said three things we were grateful for. A lot of "I'm grateful for my family, both at home and my mission family", "the gospel", "opportunity to serve in Cambodia" were shared. There were two that really stuck out to me though. 1. Repentance and 2. The temple. I won't go into a lot of detail on these two because it's personal, but i would consider each other you to think about how big of blessings both of these are in our lives. Just talk a few minutes and ponder it. I shared that i was grateful for my family, cliche, but so so true; especially my parents. They've been through a lot, but somehow they managed to find each other, defy the odds, and raise a family in the gospel. They've done a fantastic job, if i do say so myself. Thank you for everything, Mom and Dad. I also shared how grateful i am for the leaders who have helped me get to where I am today. They are so many of you who have taught me in primary, young women, or just from your example of service in the ward. I look up to each of you and know that i would not be on a mission if i didn't have you in my life. Thank you so much! And last of all- pray. On the mission sometimes prayer is all you've got, but it's so comforting to know that Heavenly Father will ALWAYS be there to listen. Prayer is one of the biggest blessings in our lives. USE IT!!!! After sharing what we were grateful for we got to finally eat the pies. The apple pie turned out SO GOOD!!!! Everyone was raving about it and when they told sister Christensen how good it was she quickly told them that it wasn't her that made it, but that it was me and sister fields. Everyone was so surprised we had made it. I couldn't help but be a little proud. I really want to get the recipe from sister Christensen so i can make it every thanksgiving. How cool would that be? A tradition from the mission?? They also had pumpkin pies. I don't normally like pumpkin pies, but if felt like if i didn't eat pumpkin pie i wouldn't be American or something, so i ate a piece and it wasn't that bad. It wasn't anywhere near my mom's pumpkin roll, but it would have to suffice. I was stuffed. Literally i couldn't move. We all just sat there chatting. Sister Christensen shared with me the story of how they got their call. It is quite a cool story, too long to share right now, but it was very touching. I loved hearing it!!! Then we started cleaning up. Cleaning up is always the roughest, but it made thanksgiving complete. We felt like a real family. I loved it. I'm very grateful that i got the "real thanksgiving experience" as sister Christensen kept saying, from start to finish. Sister Christensen even sent us home with some leftovers. (: It was perfect. Just missing my family... We biked home and got a call from a member, ming lee lee, and she was inviting us to her daughter, Om me's, birthday... We went over and guess what?? More food. I literally couldn't do it... luckily it wasn't very heavy, so i was able to eat a little and make her happy. We then went to the church and exchanged. I always get really nervous for exchanges (I've only had one other one, but still). This one was no different. I am going to be leading my area with a Khmer. The beginning moments were a little rough and awkward, but overall it was a great experience.
Her name is Sister Suan and she is a sweet heart. Very quiet, but her love for this gospel is very loud. She teaches with so much love. I loved watching/listening to her teach. She serves so much. She made my bed for me and washed my dishes for me, cooked me food too. She made missionary work so natural. As we were doing our evaluation and at the end she told me that a rough transfer or a hard companion is when you don't try to become friends with them. Those are very wise words. I really learned so much from her and am so grateful i got to serve with her for 24 hours(: 
Saturday I got a lot of practice with the language. Sister fields was on the phone trying to figure out a situation with an investigator that got baptized in siem riep, but moved to the area before getting confirmed. While she was busy with that i was surrounded by three of the cutest Khmer little girls you have ever seen. They were just talking my ear off. It was good to practice Khmer with them because i knew they wouldn't judge me. (: Then we went home and we were calling people reminding them about church on Sunday. I called one of our English class students, thinking the phone call would be in English, but when she answered she had no desire to speak English, i almost handed the phone to sister fields, but she mouthed "you can do it." so off i went, speaking Khmer. Bam just like that- first successful phone call in Khmer!!! I was very proud of myself, so was sister fields. (: 
Sunday was good. We had two investigators attend sacrament meeting, so that's always exciting!! We celebrated thanksgiving in tuek la'ak which really just consisted of fast and testimony meeting, which just ended up being all about missionary work. The spirit was so strong. I loved it! The spirit of missionary work is so real and so powerful. We have three girls in that ward that just got their mission calls, one to New Zealand, one to Portland, Oregon, and one to Salt Lake City, Utah!!!!! Super excited. They've all been our member help and they are going to very very effective and powerful missionaries. (: After church we got ice cream sandwiches. Literally. They take ice cream and stick it in between two pieces of bread. haha it was surprisingly good. We went home and did weekly planning, a few days late because of thanksgiving, but right in the middle of it, President Christensen called sister fields for transfer calls!!!! Her reaction was priceless. She was staying. She was pretty sure she was leaving, but nope. So that meant that i was leaving... we kept planning and doing our normal night and then our district leader called. PLOT TWIST!!!!! They SPLIT our area. Sister Fields was staying in Tuek Laak and I am staying in Tuol Kork. I will be with Sister Suen. She is the same age as me in the mission, so that will be interesting to see how that all plays out, but because i am leading the area I am the senior comp. I'm very excited for this opportunity. I think it will be challenging, but i know that i can learn so much from it! All in all i feel very good about it. I know that this transfer call came from the Lord and i'm excited to see what these next 6 weeks holds in store for the area and me!!!! 
Birthday Shout out to Elder Groen!!! (: 
Sister Zoe Loftus
Double D 

Cambodian Building

Good Old American Flag #merica

American Thanksgiving dinner in Cambodia

Thanksgiving with Sister Christensen and the sisters

Sister Loftus and the birthday girl Om Me

Sister Loftus with new companion Sister Suen

The drink of choice at Relief Society, not real beer!

Literal ice cream sandwich, ice cream between two slices of bread

Sister Twins!

Sister Fields taking the transfer call

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