Monday, February 29, 2016

My First Khaet!

Dear Family and Friends, 

Saying goodbye to Tuol Sengke was so so so hard. I spent all day Tuesday going and saying goodbye. Saying goodbye to Meng Kim was the hardest... she said "but sister, you'll be able to come back to the city for my baptism, right?" Saying no was the hardest ever. She got way sad... I walked away with tears in my eyes. She taught me so much. Her knowledge is incredible. We went to teach her about fasting and tithing and she knew everything already. We asked her how she knew, like who had taught her, and she said, no one, I read about it in the gospel principles book. I heard Visal (her uncle) talking about it and got curious. WHAT TEN- YEAR OLD DOES THAT??? Ah, she is the best. Then there's Ming Saraai. Oh, man. I miss her so much already. We just went and helped her cut lettuce and just talked with her. I have never laughed that hard ever. She is the cutest. She was talking to us about the future and making predictions apparently I’m going to get married very quickly when I get home and them I’m going to bring my husband back to Cambodia, so she can meet him. haha Basically that was just her way of telling me that she wanted me to come back and visit her. And I definitely will. I love her so much. Then saying goodbye to Sister Xiong. Man, she is amazing. I learned so much from her. Like so much. Good thing she lives in the states and we can see each other. As I was leaving Wednesday morning she said "what if I don't see you again before I die (end my mission) and I got way way way sad.... But if that is the case, we will have a great reunion in the motherland. (:

Wednesday- transfer day. Man, let's just say that it was a miracle that I got all my stuff packed... my suitcases were literally bursting at the zippers, but I somehow got it all in there. I don't know why I have so much stuff... there's a bunch of stuff that my mom made me bring that I haven't even used at all, and that takes up like half of one suitcase. Super annoying... thanks mom. (: We got to the mission home and it was so fun. Everyone was there. It is just like a giant party. Super sabbaay (happy (: ) Then it was time to leave... I said my final goodbyes and boarded a bus. The group I was traveling with (my zone, well some of them) are the coolest elders ever!! Also, my companion for the trip was a Khmer sister named Sister Om. She is 26 and lives in the same house as me. She is so cute. The bus ride was only 3 hour, so that made me way happy. We stopped half way through at this way sketchy rest area... I did not use the bathroom... because I don't know how to use a squatter toilet yet and I didn't want to make the rest of the trip with pee all over me... hahahaha. Sister Om tried to get me to eat some Khmer food, but I wasn't really hungry... we did eat some really delicious mango though. Like so so so good. We got there and got straight to work. This area is so hard. Everyone is less active. Like no joke! Even the Branch President and the Relief Society President are less active. We definitely have our work cut out for us here... We had 6 investigators, but none of them were progressing... I’m slowly realizing that that is how it is in every area here in Cambodia... and I’m okay with that. 

So I live in a house with 3 other sisters. Sister Nhem, my companion, she is the funniest. She knows so much English and she thinks so is American and it is the funniest thing ever. She is such a drama queen. We call her the princess because it's her way or the highway... She is such a crack up though and we've already laughed so much together. Then there's Sister Brown and Sister Om (the one from the bus) Sister Brown just finished training and already knows so much Khmer. Perks of having a Khmer trainer, at first I wished I had a Khmer trainier but then I really thought about it and realized that I probably couldn't do that and if I had a Khmer trainer I wouldn't have had Sister Fields and that would have been the worst thing ever. I love Sister Fields with all my heart. She is home by the way and that is so weird to think about... ah!!!! But both of them are the sweetest and I am really going to learn the language this transfer. I’m excited!!!! We live upstairs in a house of a member. Her name is Ming Jeng and she feeds us all the time!!! Also, with two Khmers in the house food is constantly being cooked, so I’m probably going to get way fat this transfer... haha me and Sister Brown have made a deal to go running every morning together to try and stay semi skinny. Hopefully it works. 

On Thursday we met with a new investigator. Her name is Jareeya. She is 17 and we got her from English contacting. She isn't very educated, like most of the people here in Kampong Cham, their literacy level is way low, so she doesn't really understand everything that we are teaching her, but she came to church and brought the pamphlet and her Book of Mormon with her even though she can't read. We are really going to teach things simply and try to get her to understand our purpose as missionaries. She is the sweetest. I can't understand her to save my life. She just kind of mumbles things and somehow it's a language... haha but she lives inside a hospital- the sketchiest hospital I’ve ever seen. It looks abandoned and kind of haunted, but it's still up and running... all the buildings are separate and then in between them there are just houses everywhere... kind of odd, but whatever. 

Speaking of not being able to understand people.... I can't understand anyone... I feel like I am in my training again, like I just got in country. They talk way fast and not clear at all. They drop all their r's... so rain becomes hian... it is the hardest. It’s like a whole new vocabulary... I’m praying really really hard for the gift of tongues to start kicking in and helping me out big time. haha 

Highlight of my week- SERVICE!!!! My very first time doing service. We got to harvest hicama. I know that is spelled way wrong, but I don't know how else to spell it. Hopefully you guys know what I’m talking about. It was so so so fun!!!! That is one huge perk of serving in a khaet, service and free food. Everyone is a harvester, so they always give you food. hicama, mangos, peanuts, corn, you name it and it's always so delicious!!!! The corn is so good; like state fair corn. mmmmmmm (: 

I think that is all for this week. Love you all. Happy leap day!!! Hopefully you do something fun. Sauce thinks that because this day only comes around once every four years you should treat it like a holiday, so take that advice and run with it. Do something super fun!!! Love you all!!!

Sister Loftus
Double D 

Let's pretend she got the "I love you" sign right 

Sister Loftus and Ming Sarai

A view off our balcony.  So beautiful!

Service, harvesting jicama


Sister Loftus and not sure of this Sister's name, sorry!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Kampong Cham!!!

Dear Family and Friends,

Well.... the transfer results are in. It took FOREVER for the call to come. We are supposed to go to sleep at 9:30 and the call didn't come until 10:15... Way to make us disobedient. I had so many emotions going through my head about transfers. At times I really wanted to stay in Toulsengke and then other times I really wanted to transfer. I had no idea what was going to happen. It was such a roller coaster... but when the call came I realized how much I really really wanted to stay in Toulsengke. I am transferring to Kampungcham! It is about a five-hour bus ride from the city, so hello to real Cambodia; rice fields and houses on stilts. I'm way excited for that!!! I will be with a sister named Sister Nhem. I've heard that she is really nice, so I’m pretty excited to get to know her!!! Even though my heart is broken that I have to leave Toulsengke, I know that this is where the Lord needs me to serve. I'm excited to see what it holds in store. As Hayden says "Good things are in store."

So other than transfers nothing really happened... haha I’m looking through my planner trying to find stuff to write about because this week felt like it was really good, but literally nothing happened. I guess the title of my last email, full circle, isn't really applicable anymore since I won't be here for Meng Kim's baptism, but that's okay because I’ve been having so much fun getting her ready for baptism. She is so excited about it!!! Every time we go she always feeds us. If I get fat it is her fault. She feeds us some pretty weird stuff and she knows the name in Khmer, so we literally have no idea what we are eating, but it's usually pretty good. (: She always gives us the biggest hugs. I'm way sad to tell her that I’m leaving, but I’m leaving her in the loving hands of Sister Xiong. One time we went to visit her this week she wanted to show us some videos on the computer... seemed a little sketchy, but as she started playing it, it was a Mormon message with I am a child of god in it and she started singing along with it.... IN ENGLISH!!!! It was the cutest thing ever. She got a lot of the words wrong, but she was trying and that's all that matters. All three of us started singing and I wish I would have recorded it, but I didn't... 

Thursday we had a way good lesson with one of our less actives, Om Dee. The past 4 times meeting with her the lessons seemed a little forced, like she didn't want us to be there, but didn't really know how to tell us no, but this lesson was SO good. She was really involved and shared her testimony with us. Up to that point I thought she didn't really have a testimony and didn't really understand things, but boy was I wrong. As we sat in her little wood hut, with mosquitoes all around us, I was filled with the spirit. At the end of the lesson, she shared with us her concern of how badly she wanted the opportunity to come to church each week, but that it was so expensive to motodope... She was really torn up about it. It broke my heart... I just wanted to give her the money, but I know that as she continues to put her faith in the Lord, He will prepare a way for her. He always does. 

Friday we went and had a lesson with Om Yoi, the Om that just got her family book which means that she can now receive baptism!!! But wait... things couldn't be that easy now could they? We found out that she is getting ready to go back to her kite (province) in April... a kite that doesn't have the church... We talked to our Ward Mission Leader about the situation and he counseled us to really pray to know what we are supposed to do. If we do baptize her it's basically an automatic Less Active... We don't want to add any more of those to Cambodia...there are plenty already. So that's where we are with her right now. Not sure what is going to end up happening to her. I hope she can get baptized, because that is truly what she wants. Her love and faith is incredible. 

Saturday we went and helped the ward clean the church in preparation for ward conference on Sunday. It was supposed to start at 4, but of course no body showed up til 4:45, Asians are always late... At our church there are two bathrooms outside and they get WAY NASTY!!!! No one wanted to clean them, so me and Sister Xiong stepped up to the challenge. We got the Raid (to kill all the mosquitoes, spiders, and cockroaches), masks, and gloves and off we went. The gloves and mask didn't last very long for me... I just felt like a sissy and wanted to me a man about the situation. (: It was pretty gross, but we managed to kill all the bugs and get it sparkling clean. The bishop was pretty impressed. (: He said "ah khun thom thom" which basically translates to thank you so much!!!! They had an activity after wards where there were eating fish and rice, typical Asian, right. Everyone wanted us to stay, so we did. Little did we know that the fish were still going to have the heads on them and the guts still in them... I couldn't eat that... luckily cooking the food took a lot longer than anticipated. 7 o'clock rolled around and we had to be back home, so we were able to take it to go. We got home and I was feeling pretty adventurous, so I ate some of the fish. It was very... fishy. I was eating it and doing a pretty good job until I went to grab more and opened it all the way up and saw ALL the guts... Yeah, after that I was done. Super super gross. Please enjoy the picture. (: 

Sunday we had Ward Conference. It was so cool to see that this church really is the same all over the world. I had the incredible opportunity to sustain President Monson as well as all the other leaders of the church. I was so moved as I saw all the hands go up. It was nice to not have anyone oppose it like those people do in conference. The spirit was so strong and I hope that the Khmers could feel it as well- just another testimony that President Monson has been called of God to serve as president, prophet, seer, and revelator. I will never forget that experience. They focused on keeping the commandments, what it means to really be a saint, the difference between testimony and conversion, and keeping the Sabbath day holy. It was really really good and better yet I was able to understand it all. The gift of tongues is real, people. It was a great last Sunday in Toulsengke. Too bad I didn't know it would be my last... Now it's time for all the goodbyes. I've really grown to love the members in this ward... I'm not looking forward to it. 

Sister Loftus
Double D

A little Valentine celebration with Sister Xiong

Sister Loftus and adorable Cambodian kids

Sister Loftus and the fish she thought she could eat

The inside of the fish that Sister Loftus could not eat!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Full Circle

Please enjoy this picture of me and Sister Xiong. We didn't have any students show up for English class, so we ended up talking some selfies. Seems really productive. (:

Dear Family and Friends, 

Happy Valentine's Day. I just feel obligated to wish you guys happy holidays even if I don't have anything else to say about them.  I mean what kind of a holiday is Valentine's Day to a girl who has put her love life on hold for 18 months? (: Not a super fun holiday to celebrate, but I hope you guys did something fun. (: So this week was incredibly long... like WAY long, but it was still good and I’ve got some good stories to share with y'all. (: 

Monday after the p-day festivities ended, we went to the church and taught one of our Recent Converts, Diana. Yes, her name is Diana. Not very Khmer, but I've learned not to question things here. It looks a lot more Khmer when it's written in Khmer, but that is how you say it, Diana. Anyways, she came up to us on Sunday and actually asked us to meet with her... I was so happy, that never happens. No one is ever that eager to meet with us, but we cleared our schedule and penciled her in. We taught her about the Doctrine of Christ. It was one of the best lessons on my mission. She was super engaged in the lesson. She was asking us questions and we could actually understand her. The first time I met her I thought she was a stuck up 18-year-old girl who didn't want to talk to the crazy "Barang" (french girl)... but I think that we could actually become really good friends. I want her to serve a mission, but when I asked her about it, she said she didn't feel solid enough in her testimony and knowledge, so right now that's what we are working on, strengthening those two things in order to give her the opportunity to serve if that's what she wants. She tried to share the gospel with her family and some of her friends, but they wouldn't listen to her... We are praying one day they have the desire as the watch her life continue to change and improve dramatically. 

Tuesday we went and taught a lesson to our ward mission leaders mom. He joined in on the lesson as well. Before we started the lesson, we were just making small talk which is way sketchy for two reasons... 1) you give free reign to Khmer's and you have no idea what they might share... haha and 2) it takes the topic off of religious things and brings a whole new vocabulary to the surface that we don't understand. So we literally just have to sit there saying "caa""caa" which is their version of uh-huh, just to let them know that you are listening. We just nod our heads and hope that what they are saying isn't too absurd and that they don't ask us any direct questions. But as we were doing that I looked over at our ward mission leader, remember he's the one who served in the England south mission, so he knows some English, and he is just dying, laughing so hard. I look at him and say, "What is so funny?" and his response: "you have no idea what she is saying do you?" I started laughing and said "nope." "That’s okay. I know exactly how you feel. It took me a full year into my mission to realize that pork roast was something you eat and not the name of someone. Just keep nodding and one day it'll come". hahah I was laughing so hard. Glad someone understands the struggles of being a missionary that has to learn a new language.  After our lesson with her, we went contacting... Toul Sengke is really hard to contact people because literally everyone is going somewhere, they are always too busy to talk with us, so we just kind of started walking along the railroad tracks... We didn't have much success. Currently our contacting is limited to drunk lookpus that hit on us... it's not super beneficial. It was especially bad on Tuesday because everyone was still celebrating Chinese New year, so they were all gathered in huge groups, gambling, and drinking... We try our best. 

Wednesday. This is where the title of this email comes in. Get ready for this. It may be kind of confusing, but bear with me. So do you guys remember Ming Liang and May Kim?? They were investigators of mine in Teuk La'ak... Well, they are back in my life. I get to keep teaching them!!!! They attend the Teuk La'ak ward, but they actually live in Toul Sengke. So last week the elders in Teuk La'ak called us and told us that Mark (his real name is Visal, but he can speak English, so he has dubbed himself as Mark), Ming Liang's son, had requested that the sisters in Toul Sengke go and visit her at her home. We called the sisters in Teuk La'ak (Sister Fields, my trainer and her TWO koons) just to ask if that would be okay with them, we didn't want to step on their toes or anything. They said that that would actually be way awesome because May Kim has a baptismal date for the March 5th, but they haven't been able to meet with her very often, so she wasn't going to be taught all of the lessons in time. So along with visiting Ming Liang, they requested that we help them teach her. So fun!!! We had some struggles finding their house, the neak ming is impossible to understand, she just kind of slurs all of her words together, and we couldn't understand May Kim, so we were literally so lost, but ended up finding it by a miracle of meeting a former investigator of Sister Xiong on the road, who speaks English, so he was able to call May Kim, get directions, translate it to English, and then naenoam (guide) us to their house. When we got there May Kim was outside jumping up and down yelling "Sister!! Sister!!" Up to that point she didn't know that it was me who was coming to teach her, so when she saw that it was me she ran up gave me the biggest hug and said "Sister! You never said goodbye. I've missed you so much!" it was the sweetest thing. We taught her a lesson and she ended up breaking down and telling us that she didn't have any friends at school because they found out she believed in God...How wrong is that? She's 10 and her friends are discriminating against her... We asked her if she still wanted to get baptized and she assured us, through tears, that she was still very excited to get baptized and knew that it's what Heavenly Father wanted her to do. She said she wanted to get baptized so that one day when she was bigger she could be a sister just like us. We were able to bear a powerful, yet simple, testimony that we knew what she was doing was what Heavenly Father wanted her to do too. We told her how much we loved her and how much her Heavenly Father loved her too. She can always talk with Him through prayer and she said, "I know he loves me". She is the sweetest thing ever. Then later that day we were coming back from a not so successful visit to one of our less actives, Srey E, and we saw a family of monkeys. There were probably 8 of them. they were just climbing on this building and on the electrical wires. I never thought I'd see that here in the city, but it was the coolest thing ever. We, of course, stopped our bikes in the middle of the street and whipped out our cameras. How could we miss talking pictures of that?? 

Thursday we found out that one of our investigators, Om Yoi finally got her family book, which means that she can get baptized here in a few weeks!!! We are all SUPER excited!!!! 

Friday we had zone training and we were FINALLY able to watch the worldwide missionary broadcast. It was really really good. I know that you guys have literally heard about it from 100 other missionaries, but the title of it was teach repentance, baptize converts. We are really emphasizing repentance because that is what true conversion comes from. If our investigators understand repentance before baptism then we are really baptizing converts, not people who are still investigating the church. Also, this work is so dependent on the Holy Ghost. A lot of times we think of the holy ghost as a tool that we can use, when in all reality we are just a tool in the Holy Ghost's hands. We need to humble ourselves, being exactly obedient, and be willing to follow the promptings of the spirit to accomplish the Lord's work. one last thing. "Less actives and part member families are GOLD MINES!!" Typically here in this mission we think of them as a hindrance or a burden because there are just so many of them, but the broadcast really changed my perspective of them and I’m going to take advantage of them and really try my hardest to help them. Elder Oaks closed it up with a way powerful talk that was basically just a pep talk to all the missionaries serving. He really emphasized our purpose and our divine identity. Do you know who you are and what you've been called to do?? 

Friday night we got a referral from the elders to go visit a less active neak ming. They claimed she wanted to meet with us, but when we went to her house she wouldn't open the door. All of her neighbors told us that she was home, but she completely ignored us... her son came out and we asked him if his mom was home, he walked back in yelling "mom!!" but he never came back out... Apparently she didn't want to meet with us. That happens more than you'd think. We could literally see her in the house through the window. We knew she was in there, but she wouldn't open the door... We aren't stupid. We may not speak your language perfectly, but we aren't stupid, we just left and tried to get over the fact that she slammed the door in our face. 

Sunday was good. We were able to go to church. We parked our bikes and this little girl from all the way across the parking lot yells "Sister!!!!" and just runs towards us. I didn't know the little girl, like I’ve literally never met her, so I thought she was running to hug Sister Xiong, but she ended up hugging me. Weird... but she was the sweetest thing. She ended up sitting with us during sacrament meeting and playing with me. She was the cutest thing ever... to begin with, but then she just got way annoying and obnoxious. It just showed me that I am not ready to be a mom yet... haha We went and met the relief society president, who is actually inactive haha, but she was asking us how long we had left in our missions. I told her 11 months and she was so surprised she thought that I was close to going home because my language was so good. That was exactly what I needed to hear. I doubt my language abilities, but apparently I am better than I think. This week I was really able to feel the gift of tongues working through me. It is the coolest thing ever. This language, as crazy as it is, is slowly coming and each day I find so much joy in speaking and reading it. Reading the scriptures in Khmer is the coolest thing ever. I can't wait to blow all our your minds with my reading abilities. (: 

Love you all so much!!! 

Sister Loftus 
Double D 

Ming Saareye- this is a less active that lives in a park. She is the sweetest and has the biggest heart. I love her!

A way sketchy bridge that we crossed. I almost fell in... haha 

This is something that's in the center of a round about. I think it looks the the paintings in Indiana Jones. Cool, no?

Sister Loftus and little girl at church

Sister Loftus and May Kim

Monday, February 8, 2016

Trials and Hardships bring Blessings

Dear Family and Friends,

P-day we went to a little noddle shop for lunch with a bunch of the other sisters and it was so much fun. It was literally a scene from Kung Fu Panda. It was so classic. Somehow the scene with the dumplings, where they are fighting over it with their chopsticks, even got recreated. It was three Khmer sisters, so they had no idea what they were doing, but all the Americans just started laughing. It was the best. (: 

This week was full of trials and hardships... Satan is really working hard to stop the working from moving forward in Toul Sengke (that is the correct way to spell it in English). Tuesday Sister Xiong got sick, so we spent the whole day in the pteah (house). She slept a lot and I got loads and loads to study, I would said peel velia peet (too much time), but that is not a thing. I love studying. It is so relaxing and comforting. The Book of Mormon is amazing and has so much power in it if we will just read it and apply its teachings in our lives. I was able to study about Adam and Eve and the 10 Commandments. After our lessons, I think I mentioned that last week; I really started focusing on my understanding of them. I was prompted to study in True to the Faith, not sure why that hadn't crossed my mind before, but as I studied I had an experience where my "understanding was enlightened". It was the coolest experience ever. In True to the Faith it says something along the lines that we will not fully desire salvation until we come to better understand the fall. That hit me way hard. Up until that point I was just studying the fall because I wanted to teach it better, but that taught me that in order for me to receive salvation, for all of us to receive salvation, we have to have a stoic (solid) understanding of the fall and the plan of salvation. I think that applies to every gospel principle. I'm really trying my hardest to take advantage of the time I have to study as a missionary. Really trying to enlarge and strengthen my understanding of the doctrine of Christ. I also had some free time to write letters, which was so fun. Letters are a missionary’s best friend. (: Thursday we went to meet a less active, bong rotha, and Satan was way strong there (her words exactly.. haha). She runs this little cart on the side of the road and Thursdays she's in charge of getting all the people on buses to the khetes, so there were people everywhere that just kept coming up and asking her when their bus would be here, or she'd have to roll her self out into the street (she is disabled and in a wheelchair) to try and stop the buses.  Needless to say distractions where EVERYWHERE. I got way frustrated... we had planned a way powerful lesson on Baptism and were going to commit her to come to church to renew her baptismal covenants, but the spirit just wasn't there... She didn't come to church. Saturday I got way down on myself and the language. I was reading Chapter Nine of preach my gospel- finding people to teach, and I just got WAY frustrated because none of those work very easily here in Cambodia or I don't know how to do what is says in Khmer. I was super anger and not very happy. Then we went over the bridge, which is oddly exhilarating, such an adrenaline rush as you get to the top and just get to coast down the rest of it, but then our Less active was sick and our member wasn't home... So we biked over there for no reason. Then Sister Xiong's Bike broke. Her pedals got stuck which means we were stuck on the wrong side of the bridge with only one bike... so we did the only logical thing. We started walking... We walked all the way from Ming Visal's house. That doesn't mean anything to you guys, but it's WAY far. Like an hour of a half of walking with one bike and having people yell at us to get out of the road... I got fried. Super sunburned, but eventually we got home. Sunday our investigators, the only ones that are even semi progressing weren't at church AGAIN. Huge bummer.... But here's where the Lord comes in.... So Tuesday, even though we didn't get to go out and proselyte, I was able to study and really feel the spirit. Thursday, we were able to meet with an investigator named Bong Thavi. She got in an accident a while ago, so she has some problem remembering (she forgot her own daughters name) and she can't use her right arm or her right leg but we met her and we were able to teach her about the Book of Mormon. I was able to share the first vision with her and bear my testimony of the truthfulness of the book of Mormon. As I did so, she just smiled at me and said "it's true, i know it's true. "Hopefully she'll keep acting on that faith and keep progressing. Saturday somehow I changed my perspective and found the humor in the whole situation. I just kept laughing and because we only had one bike with appointments we got the great opportunity to experience doping. That is where you sit on the back of the bike and ride two people on one bike. Sister Xiong claims that she is too heavy, so I was the lucky one to get to sit on the bike. We almost fell over multiple times and got lots of weird looks from the natives, but I got a good kick out of it and was laughing my butt off (which is now bruised hahahaha). it was definitely a Cambodian experience that I will never forget. (:

Sunday we went and visited our investigators and found out that last week they didn't come to church because the mom had to work, but it was just a one time thing and this week they didn't come because the dad and the little girl were sick, but she promised that they'll come next week!!! That was the tender mercy we were looking for to get us through the next week. But to make things even better the Om (the grandma, who's been waiting FOREVER for her family book) told us that her son went back to their srok to get it!!!! WHAT???? Me and Sister Xiong just turned to each other with the biggest smile on our face turned back to her and said in unison "What?? Om L?aa min ten!!!! (that is amazing!!!!)She just smiled and said how excited she was. Ah, the best thing ever!! We're gonna have ourselves a baptism coming up here soon. (: 

Wednesday we had the incredible opportunity to have Zone conference. Ah, I love zone conference so so so much. Why can't we have one every month? President and sister Christensen are the coolest people ever and have too much knowledge to share with us. Their testimonies are so strong as well. They felt very prompted to share with us about personal study. They call it "Morning Magic". I thought it was a very catchy phrase, but couldn't help but think about Magic mornings at Disneyland. I got lost in a day dream for a few minutes as I thought about Disneyland with my family (: , but came back pretty quickly. They shared with us so much!!! They really want us to focus on studying the scriptures rather than just reading. President shared a ton of scriptures with us that used words like ponder, search, remember, study, etc. We read in Doctrine and Covenants section 138, a section written by President Joseph F. Smith. If you read this section you read about how a prophet of God receives revelation. The same goes for reading Joseph Smith history. All personal revelation starts with a question and a desire to learn. I learned so much. President also said that it was important for us to start every study session with a prayer, but that that wasn't enough. We need to be down on our knees multiple times during the hour pleading with the father to help us understand and receive further revelation. That was something I’d never really thought of. There was so much more that I learned, but of course, I forgot my notes at home... just know that it was incredible and I’ll share more from it next week!! We had lunch, Mikes Burgers, and I got a little disappointed. I wanted Khmer food... and it made me way sick. What? Since when does a burger make me sick? I'm the queen of burgers... proof that I am Asian. (: After lunch President shared with us his goals for the mission for 2016 and when I say goals I really mean to say goal. There is only one thing we are focusing on this year- recent converts. We are trying to get our retention rate up from 38% to 50%, matching the rate in the United States. President said that it would take a lot of hard work, but it was very possible even though the church is still an "Infant” here in Cambodia and "not fully functioning"... haha I just had to laugh at that because it is so true. There is so much that the church is lacking here. A lot of the problems we as missionaries kept bringing up would normally be fixed in a ward council meeting, but we don't have those here... haha I've just got to laugh at the state of the church here in Cambodia, so it keeps me sane. (: We are focusing from the very beginning of the process-finding. We are really trying to find those who are willing to accept and ACT upon the message of the restoration. We are really focusing on Repentance. I can't wait to see what miracles come from this. This is the basis of our church-change. Repentance comes through the Atonement of Jesus Christ and as we repent daily we come to better know and love our Savior, Jesus Christ. As converts and investigators do this, their roots in this gospel grow deeper and deeper. 

This week one of my goals is to work on opening my mouth. For those of you who now me, I don't like speaking that much in English and then you get Khmer in the mix and I speak even less.... We really need to focus on contacting situations because we need to find new investigators, investigators that will progress. If any of you guys have advice for contacting situations, PLEASE SHARE them!!!!! We need all the help we can get. I think opening my mouth will really help, but I’m slowly realizing that I need to do everything i can with the time that I have. Things may end a lot sooner than I think. I'm going to be the best missionary I can be and do everything I can do become better. I'm going to focus on doing everything Sister Alison Eyring would do. For those of you who don't know Allie, she is one of my best friends, and she recently had to go home from her mission in Spain due to some health complications with her hip. I know it is killing her to be home, but I am going to live this week for her. Als, you're an inspiration to us all and I know that you will continue doing the Lord's work from your bed in Utah. When things get hard this week or I don't know what to do I'm going to ask myself "What would Allie do?" You can definitely live through me. (: I want to help this area really start growing. There's a lot that I can improve on, but I'm going to start with opening my mouth and try to gain some confidence in my language ability and I think everything else will kind of fall into place, at least I’m hoping that's what happens. I love being a missionary. It's not the easiest thing, but it is worth it. I am learning so much!!!! 

This week I had the incredible experience of finishing the Book of Mormon again. I know without a doubt that it is true. As my dad shared with me this morning, there is no way Joseph Smith could have written it. I know that it came from God in order to help us in these latter days. Everything question, problem, or struggle we face in this life can be addressed by reading the Book of Mormon. I would encourage everyone to read the Book of Mormon every day. I promise that as you do so you will be happier and you will be able to feel God's love for you. I'm excited to start reading it again. I've started with a clean copy and am going to read through marking the Gospel of Jesus Christ (faith, repentance, baptism, and enduring to the end). I'm very excited to see what I will learn. 

Thank you all so much for your love and prayers. I wouldn't be able to do the Lord's work without your support. You guys are the best. Love you!!! 

Sister Loftus
Double D 

Biking with a mop - too Khmer, and very difficult

The Sisters and me at Zone Conference