Monday, September 26, 2016

Muddy Miracles!

Dear Family and Friends,

Here we are again with another week under our belts. I don't like it. One more week down means one more week until I go home. Don’t get me wrong, I miss my family like crazy, but how many people get to be a missionary in Cambodia?? Not very many and I just know that once I’m home I am going to be craving Cambodia every second of every day. Wishing I could put my tag on just one more time and go out and serve the Lord’s children here in Cambodia. Man…I love my mission. It’s not easy at all, but it's so worth it. 

This week started off a little interesting because I went to SIEM REAP!!! It was crazy. I got to the mission home and they immediately said, “ Sister Loftus, let's go”. So off I went. Ripped away from my beloved baby Sister Luke. It was heart breaking, but it was okay because I got to be companions with Sister Semones (my MTC comp) again!!! 5-hour bus ride with her was SO fun!!! We got to Siem Reap and it was way weird... everything was in English... because of all the tourists... then we stayed up way late talking and reminiscing... (whoops) and then we woke up at 3:50 and off we went. It was way cold... and there were tons and tons of people, but we had a good time. The ruins BLOW my mind... how they built them I have no idea. There is a ton too... like 6 or 7 and they are huge!!!! It rained... so we got way wet, but it made some of the people leave, so that was good. We surprised a lot of people with our Khmer skills. It was the best. I love talking to them. I don't really know what to say, not a whole lot to share because you just walk around. We didn't have a tour guide so we don't really know a whole lot about them, just know that they are giant stone buildings. haha enjoy the pictures!!! Then we took a bus ride home and then I had the amazing privilege to take Sister Xiong, one of my favorite companions, to the airport with President and Sister Christensen. She is sick, so she had to go home, but I was so blessed to be able to see her one last time and be able to be her companion. She changed my life for sure. I love her so much. 

So we have this less active, Om Saan, and every time we go, she just asks these life questions that I don't really have the answers too... it's way stressful at first, but then the spirit takes over and we just have these way spiritually deep conversations... I feel bad for Sister Luke because she doesn't sdaab baan (understand) anything at all, but it's been cool for me because I’ve been able to gain a testimony of the gift of tongues. I mean, I knew it was real before, but now I really really know. Never before have I been able to have deep conversations with old ladies about life and now I am doing it in Khmer... like what is life right now?? So so so cool. (: 

K, here is where the subject of this email comes in and I am just going to apologize right now because the telling of it will NEVER do it justice but I’m sure it's something I will talk about for the rest of my life. So when I get home I promise to tell all of you the story in person because it is AMAZING!!!!! So in order for people to get baptized they have to get interviewed with the district leader right? And our district leader lives in Sen Sok which is like an hour bike ride away, so we had to nat (make an appointment) with him way in advance. We made an appointment for Friday and our investigator said she would be there, but then when we were biking to the church for the interview it started raining... like hard. And if it rains Zeekaa, our investigator, doesn't come because she has to walk to the church... so we started freaking out. We knew that the district leader had changed his schedule already to accommodate us.... so I was way nervous. We got to the church and called her and she said, "No, I’m not coming". At first Sister Luke was talking to her in English because she knows so much, but then after she wasn't budging, I took over in Khmer... I said she had to come if she wanted to get baptized and she said, “but Sister, it's raining”. I said that I didn't care. We go out and work every day when it rains. She said she would wait until 5, when her interview was supposed to be, and then IF it had stopped raining she would come, I walked outside and looked at the sky. Black as far as the eye could see. I said "Zeekaa, I don't think it is going to stop..." and after arguing for a good five minutes on whether she would come or not she finally said "fine, I’ll come”. She hung up, sounding way way way mad... I was SO nervous she had just said she would come, but wasn't actually going to... the elders showed up and I got even more nervous, so Sister Luke, being the little greenie full of faith that she is said, “Sister do you want to pray?”  And I said yes, so we knelt down, Sister Luke said a great prayer in English, we stood up and walked outside, watched the elders clean their bikes hahha and within less than five minutes it stopped raining COMPLETELY.. WHAT??? Are you kidding me? We started freaking out, in a good way. Then Zeekaa walked through the gate and we like tackled her to the ground we were so happy. We went inside and talked to her a little and she said, “Sisters, I think this was just a trial of my faith. I think the Lord was just seeing how bad I really wanted to get baptized. And because I left when it was still pouring, he blessed me and made it stop”. Okay, one, way cool experience just happened. I would say a miracle and two; our golden investigator recognizes it as such. So amazing!!!! And then after her interview we find out that our district leader, Elder Seng, who used to serve here about 8 months ago was the one who invited her to English class for the first time and that is how she started learning with the missionaries. So full circle endings. AAAAAHHHH why is missionary work so darn cool??? (: 

Saturday we found out that our other investigator, Srey Moam, is getting made fun of at work every day for learning with us... but she doesn't care because 'this is the church for her". She is so good!!! I just wish there was something we could do to help her come to church, because she can pray and read all she wants, but we can't baptize her until she starts coming to church... we are fasting and praying that she can find a new job, so that she can finally get baptized which is really all she wants!!! 

Sunday I gave a talk in sacrament meeting and in prep for it my love for temples just grew exponentially. Man, we are so blessed to have temples; especially us who live in Utah, having so many so close to us. I mentioned the number, what is it? Like 14 or 15 and the guy that spoke after me mentioned it... and how Cambodia doesn't even have one... it kind of broke my heart. Guys, GO TO THE TEMPLE!!! Don’t ever take it for granted.... go. go . go . 

That's all I’ve got, but stay tuned cause I’ve got loads and loads of pictures coming your way. Ready or not. (: 

Sister Loftus 
Double D

Siem Reap

More of Siem Reap

And More!

Sister Loftus and a favorite family

Sister Loftus, Sister Luke and the yiay with the most swag.

Elder washing his bike in the rain because they were already soaked, so why not, right?

Sister Loftus and Sister Luke witnessing a miracle!

Sister Loftus and Sister Luke

Just being silly

Cutest baby ever that laughs and smiles all the time

Just Zoe!

These children always stand like that and watch us eat... hahaa the joys of being a white girl in Cambodia 

Beautiful sunset. #blessed 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Living the Life

Dear Family and Friends, 
This week was pretty normal, but yet so good at the same time. I always feel like so much happens and then it is down at the computer and pleec ah lieng mong (and I forget everything). It’s kind of the worst, but I'll do my best to do this week justice. 
Tuesday was a pretty interesting day... we woke up and we planned to have district meeting, just like any other Tuesday. When we went downstairs my bike was broken so we left a little early to get it fixed.  We were waiting for them to bang it out with a hammer, cause that's how they "fix" things here and we got a text from both companionships of elders in our district (we are the only sisters) saying that they had bike problems and someone was coming to look at their house so they would both be late. Perfect. So we just took our time at the bike place. I gotta hand it to the Khmer’s, they do a pretty good job fixing things with hammers. If I tried to do what they do, I would make it 100X worse... haha it kind of blows my mind. Then we went to the church and neither of the Elders were there, so we just did some training while we waited. Eventually the Khmer companionship of elders, our district leader, got there. This was at about 11 and typically district meeting is over at 11:30. We called the other elders and the guy was still at their house so they weren't coming.  We just decided to do it without them... haha talk about awkward. Just me, Sister Luke, Elder Seng, and Elder Ouk, rocking it in the high council room together. It was way funny cause the first thing Elder Seng said was “sorry but I’m going to speak and teach in Khmer because I don't have the gift of tongues like you guys..." I was dying. Typically he is very professional when he teaches, but today he just joked around with us. I was laughing so hard. He turned his questions into a game show. We were just laughing all together. It was the best and we learned a ton and felt the spirit. It was so good. And now me, Sister Luke, Elder Seng, and Elder Ouk are best friends. 
This week we had an interesting lesson with our less active Yiay. She is the picture from a few weeks ago, my Cambodian grandma. She is the cutest and has a ton of faith, but just quite doesn't understand everything. So lately we have been giving her chapters to read in the Book of Mormon and she reads them like once every day so like 7 times before we meet her again so that she can understand it all. And then we go and she just teaches us and I love it. She learns so much and understands it all. But then after this way good lesson she says "oh sisters. I have a num (treat) for you", because she always gives us something.... she says "last night they were signing to their ancestors and I know that's against the rules for us, so I signed to Jehovah. I have two extra nums and I want to give them to you two. Typically we eat with her there, but these nums she boxed up. What was she expecting us to do??? Go home and burn incense to Jesus?? haha we kindly explained to her we don't do that, but we did go home and eat the nums and they were quite delicious. (: They tasted like 7 layer bars. so good!!!! haha 

Thursday we had a good lesson with my favorite family... but I’m way bummed because they told us that they are moving... kind of far away and won't be in our ward anymore... we just can't catch a break out here... man.... but we had a good last lesson with them and taught the husband how to tie a tie. And…loved on their cute little baby boy. He is the cutest ever. I love him. So blessed to get to know all these amazing people!!!! Tender mercies. We went home and worked on CBR's for 3 hours... with not much success. But that is okay. (: 

Update on Investigators - Srey Moam is still in the same spot as she was, still not coming to church but I still have so much hope and faith in her, so we will keep teaching her. She really wants a new job and we taught her fasting, so hopefully she applies it and starts to see some miracles happen according to her faith. As for Zeekaa, she blew me away this past week. She is getting interviewed for baptism this week and so we prepped her a little for it. Just asked her the questions they will ask her and she passed with flying colors!!!! She knew EVERYTHING. Her answers were so good. I honestly can't wait for her to get baptized!!!! she also got to attend a baptism of the elders and that helped her get even more excited!!!!! 2 more weeks. YES!!!! The Lord is looking out for us here in Pochentong. We might not have a ton of work, but we've got a good investigator. I love her. (: 

Yesterday we found a less active recent convert. She is so so so good. She works every day except Sundays from 7 in the morning until 8 at night... she has a little 10 month old baby... she doesn't have anything to ride to church, but she is so good. We walked up to her house and the door was open, like usual and both her and her husband (not a member) yelled sister!!! and then they turned the TV off and started learning with us. I am in love with her little baby girl, Srey Nic, she is the cutest and she's not scared at all. She was smiling and laughing!!! I loved it!!! She has crazy faith. She is from Kampungcam and when she learned with the sisters there she was like 6 months pregnant and walked an hour there and back for church. I am way excited to start meeting her on a weekly basis and seeing if we can help her find a way to come to church. 

That's all I’ve got for this week. Sorry it was kind of short. I was in the middle of my email, on a roll, and then the power went out, so then I lost all my thoughts that I wanted to share.... sorry!!! Just a quick note. I get to go to Siem Reap tomorrow because I’m cit slap hauy (close to dying, except not really. I still have loads of time (: ) so get ready for the best pictures next week!!!! Love you all! Thank you so much for the love, support, and prayers. You are the best!!!! 

Sister Loftus
Double D

 Tying some ties... don't mind the dad with his shirt off... it's normal. haha

Cutest baby ever!!!!

CBR work...they were everywhere

How are we supposed to find a lost sheep based off of that picture? Are you kidding me??? 

Buddhist nums

Pretty tasty!

A birthday party for a five year old.

He has had a better life than I have.

So much food and partying going on.

At one point I had two ice creams cones in my hand.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Kicking It In Cambodia

Dear Family and Friends,

This week was way long... I don't really understand why, but all of the areas that I serve in start out really good when I first get there and then slowly we lose our investigators and the work just gets harder and harder... it was really frustrating at first, but now I think I'm finally starting to understand it: the Lord just really really loves me and wants me to learn as much as I can on this mission. He teaches us through trials and afflictions, challenges and temptations, I have plenty of those on my plate right now and as I continue to rely on Him I will grow stronger and stronger each day, slowly becoming the person He needs me to be. I still can't believe how much I have grown as a missionary and as a person. Missions truly are full of miracles.

We had a huge trial this week. Our recent convert of 2 weeks lost her job and told us that she had to move back to Kampungcam... super far away from the church.... We were heart broken and at first, just for a split second, I was angry. I didn't understand why it had to be happening to us. Why she had to leave? And then once I remembered "it's not about you..."I started thinking about her and her situation... her situation in KC is not the best. She has a step mom who isn't very nice and she will be living with her parents again after 1 1/2 years on her own... that's not easy. She was not very happy about the whole thing. I feel so bad for her... but after the initial anger and confusion wore off I was able to see things clearly. The Lord has a PERFECT plan for her. There is a reason she has to go back to KC right now and not be able to go to church.... I don't really know what that is yet, maybe she will convert her whole family, help them know about their savior Jesus Christ, but I have faith that all will work out. She does too. She was so positive about the whole situation and promised that she will read and pray everyday. We will keep checking up on her and praying that she finds a job and can come back quickly!!!! We had a really good last lesson with her yesterday. Sister Luke has a heart of gold and gave up her really nice gold plates (Khmer scriptures with gold covering on the pages) because Sokhiab only had the Book of Mormon and we didn't feel good about sending her away with just that, so we called all the resources we could, but couldn't find a triple, so she very willing gave hers up. She is the best. How did I get so lucky to meet Sokhiab and be companions with Sister Luke??? 

Remember Bong Lida? The lady that I worked with in my training that moved to PCT?? We had a killer lesson with her on the temple this week. She really really really wants to go and I really really really want to help her get there. We gave her the temple book and she started reading it. She is really feeling the spirit and I hope that things keep progressing and she can go within the next few years. It would help her so much!!!! But she went back to her srok (home town) for a holiday and won't be back for 3 weeks. Hopefully she stays strong and reads and prayers and we can just pick up right where we left off with her!!!! 

Our investigators, all two of them haha (:, are great!!! We had one of them (Zeekaa, who reminds me so much of Michelle, my sister-in-law) tell us she can't wait to get married in the temple and that if anyone that isn't a member asks her to marry them, she will say no because she wants to have a good happy family. Also, she is so good and involved in the ward that Elder Otto, an elder serving in PCT, thought she was a long time member. hahaha Then we have one more investigator, Srey Moam. She works on Sundays, so she doesn't really have the ability to come to church, but she is so good and is progressing a ton. When I first met her she wouldn't talk at all, but this past Saturday we had a way good lesson with her. She was laughing and joking and just super super happy. I attribute it all to the gospel. It’s starting to click and that's what brings lasting happiness in our lives. I love seeing the gospel change people’s lives!!!
Last p-day was way fun. We went to a restaurant called Ramen and it was a Korean BBQ place. We went with six other missionaries and it was SO delicious. We cooked our food on grills in front of us and then got a bento box. I never thought it’d say this, but I love sushi. I could eat it everyday and never get sick of it. Also, so to make everything even better, it was half off, so a meal for all 8 of us would normally be almost 100 dollars, but we got it for like 50 and then splitting everything it was only like 6 dollars for each of us. It was so good!!! We might just go back every p-day... and then we played spoons and spastic Uno. It was so much fun. Never laughed that hard in my life. 
We had quite the miracle take place this week, but you guys are going to get the very very condensed version cause I’m running low on time. But we went to find a CBR and we followed a map that an old missionary drew, so they aren't the greatest... haha so we started off on this trek and really have no idea where we were going.  We were trying to follow the map, but the streets didn't line up, so we just stopped for a second to talk. I was ready to go home but Sister Luke said I believe we can find it, so she took off and just started taking random turns. We ended up in front of this house and she said I think this is it. I looked at the shoes and there were little kid shoes... the family we were trying to find didn't have little kids or so I thought... so we turned away to bike to a different lesson when this little boy yells "hello sister".  I turn to Sister Luke still biking away and said "did you hear that??" She said no, but I felt like we needed to turn around and ask him, so we did and guess what?  The house that we just awkwardly sat in front of debating if it was theirs or not WAS THEIRS!!!! And we were able to meet them. Huge blessing and tender mercy - 1. because we found it following the spirit 2. she had prayed the night before to meet us. 3. she is getting ready to get married and can't meet us for about a month so everything worked out in favor of us. The Lord is the best!!!! 
Charades at English class always makes for an interesting night full of laughter. (: 
Most of our week was spent SOAKED!!!! It poured like 4 out of the 7 days this week and we just get on our little bikes and off we go to do the work of the Lord. I find it quite hilarious that in the white handbook it says not to bike in heavy traffic, when it's dark outside, or in severe weather. Here in the Cambodia Phnom Penh Mission we do all three of those almost on a daily basis. (: hahaha don't worry mom, there are definitely angels protecting us. 
Yesterday was literally the best day at church. We got a new bishopric and I’m way excited to start working with them. Also, our stake president spoke and he is literally the coolest person ever. He knows so much and the way he phrases things just blows my mind. one day I want to be like him. I learned so much, so much that I’m not even gonna try and explain it all except for this one little quote. Service is learning. It sounds cooler in Khmer, but just ponder that for a second. That’s why missions are so life changing. 
I love this gospel. I love being a missionary. I love my savior and redeemer. WE are so blessed. Have a great week. Love you all!!!! 

Sister Loftus 
Double D 

Here is a link to a short video made by Elder Beckstead.

Lunch at Ramen

Sister Loftus and Sister Luke

The cutest little Cambodian girl you will ever meet, named Yaa

Sister Loftus and Sister Luke with Grandma Mak Yiay Seng Hong. I love her will all my heart.  

Where we have to stand to make phone service

A day at church

Sister Loftus, Sister Luke and Sokhiab

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

This is Cambodia!

Dear Family and Friends, 

This week was probably the longest week of my life.... haha We had two training meetings, one on Thursday night and one on Friday morning, so there was a lot of riding back and forth from the mission home and Pochentong, but that's okay because it was all worth it. The meetings were so inspired and they really helped me figure out the kind of trainer/missionary I want to be for the time that I have left. It was also such a fun opportunity to look back and think about when I got in the country one year ago (my one year in country is this week. Crazy, right??) I have come so far. Like it blows my mind, all because of the Lord. I am so grateful for everything I’ve learned. Missions are the most incredible experiences ever. It’s hard though being on the other side of things now because sometimes Sister Luke struggles with the language and says that she is never going to learn it and gets really down on herself or she doesn't know what the members are saying and just gets super discouraged and all I can say is "it will get better, I promise."  It will, but she just has to trust me. And in the moment it seems like you're going to die and that nothing is going to get better and that you are going to be in this country forever and you're never going to go home and then one day you wake up and you have like 4 months left and suddenly you think "man, I don't want to go home. I want to be a missionary forever." You know that that can't happen and then you get way sad.... that's my thinking process about 10 times a day. I really really love being a missionary and it has taken me 14 months to really appreciate it, sure there were days where I loved being a missionary, but then something would happen and I would just want to go home, but for the past few weeks I’ve only had thoughts that I love my mission and talking about going home really really makes me sad and stresses me out. I just want to keep being taught by the Lord as a missionary and keep putting my tag on every day. AAAAAAHHHHHH. Don’t make me go home. I really have so many thoughts running through my head and I can never articulate them very well.... just know that my mission has changed my life and continues to change my life every day. This gospel is true. The Book of Mormon is the word of God and can help us with every problem we have. Trust the Savior and his perfect plan for each of us. 

Okay, now that that is over, I apologize that was all over the place but I just had to get it down on paper because I really really don't want to leave.... but it's okay because I still have 4 months of incredible experiences with Sister Luke in Pochentong, honestly one of the best wards here in Cambodia. We have way fun experiences everyday together. She sees stuff that just blows her mind and she'll ask me questions and I’ll just say "yep, that was a funeral just going down the middle of the road throwing fake American $100 out and candy" or "yes, our neighbors did just raid our trash to get our recyclable to sell so that they can have food to eat" or when we walk downstairs in the morning for breakfast and there are 4 cockroaches dead in our kitchen she freaks out, I just step over them and start eating my food. haha And our butts being wet all the time 1- because of sweat 2- because of the fact that we don't use toilet paper. We use this thing that we call a bum gun to rinse off, we shake off a little, and off we go. hahaha you guys are gonna start getting all the little things about Cambodia that I forgot to tell you about in my training. Get excited!!!! (; 

Now for the work. We are currently rocking teaching our very new (as of yesterday) recent convert, Sokhiab,. She is the one that was sick last week and didn't get the Holy Ghost, but don't worry cause she came yesterday and received the Holy Ghost and was just glowing!!! I love her so much. We had a lesson with her and she just told us how much this gospel has changed her life. But she told us that her work won't let her work for about a month (I don't really understand why it happens, but it does...) so she has to find new work and if she can't find work she'll have to go back to her Srok (home town). I'm praying way hard that she can find work because if she goes back she won't be able to go to church for a month... but if she does have to go home that is Heavenly Father's plan for her and maybe she can help her family have the desire to learn. She is so good!!! 

We are still teaching Zeekaa. She is the cutest ever. I want her to get baptized, go on a mission, marry an RM, and then just have the cutest little family ever. She has so much potential and she speaks English, so Sister Luke can actually communicate with her. She Loves Zeekaa. We will keep teaching her and hopefully get her prepared and baptized in 2-3 weeks. (: We taught her Friday about the priesthood. She said she wanted to marry a man that holds the priesthood and can help her have a happy family and life. She said she wants to move to America... I bore powerful testimony, as prompted by the spirit, that the Lord has a perfect plan for each of us and if he wants her to go to American it will happen. But if she's supposed to stay here that’s what will happen, but no matter what happens if she stays strong in the gospel and keeps doing everything she needs to do the Lord will bless her. She just looked at me and all she said was "amen". It made me happy. (: 
Other than her our investigators aren't super excited right now. Not much is happening. We’ll spend a lot of time this week contacting and finding because we need new investigators bad!!!! 

We are currently working with a family Ming Niat and Danee. I love them will all my heart. Ming Niat is a very active mother and Danee is her daughter who is semi active. Ming Niat is really worried for Danee so we are trying to help strengthen both of them and get them reading in the Book of Mormon because that is the game changer. We had a way good family home evening with them where we shared the talk “I am a Child of God” from last conference and then shared in 1 Nephi 11:17. I don't really know how we managed to tie it all together, but they were both engaged and told us it was exactly what they needed to hear. So props to the Spirit and revelation. gotta love when that happens. (: 

Sunday was good, as usual. Testimony meeting was way powerful. Sister Luke made momma proud and bore her testimony. She is going to do great things. (: I love her and am so blessed to be her comp. We got fed again. Delicious food. Not so delicious food. We "didn't have enough food" so they just went out and bought more... on Sunday. All of us were members and have callings in the ward, but it still happened and no one said anything.... haha you've just gotta love and appreciate Cambodia for what it is. I sure do. (: 

Sister Loftus 
Double D 

Language study on the floor. I am Sister Loftus' daughter. hahaha 

Aren’t we the cutest mother daughter duo? Also please not the cute dresses. They were only $7. We love shopping in Cambodia.

This cute little girl was feeding us crackers as we taught. Mine was way soggy because she had been sucking on it first... kind of gross, but at least she has a kind heart. (: 

Cooking Cambodia style

More Cambodia cooking

Last Cambodia cooking

Sister Loftus and Sister Luke

Sister Loftus and another unnamed Sister, sorry

Sister Semones and Sister Loftus with more missionaries

Cambodia view