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

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