Monday, October 24, 2016

Questionable Meat

Dear Family and Friends, 

First off, for all of you who are wondering, I am better. I am 100 percent better. I took some Cipro (a medicine to kill bacteria in your stomach) (they give it away like candy basically) and it took like 2 days to start working, but now I am healthy and ready to keep serving the lord!!! Oh, also, I lost 2 kilos (about 4 pounds) and 4 cc on my waist... haha but I am okay!!! (: I’m pretty sure I’ve gained it all back hauy hauy (already).  

This week went by way too fast. I have a feeling that all the coming weeks, what little time I have left, (let's not talk about it, okay??) are just going to keep going by faster and faster... I don't like it. Every night I just lay in bed and have a little panic attack... I don't want to go home. I don't know how to live in America anymore or be a normal person. I am a missionary. Leaving this country, which has been home for the past 14 months, may be the death of me.... 

Monday we had a way fun p-day as we traveled everywhere in the rain and went to the Royal Palace with Elder Seng and Elder Maurer. Before going to the Palace we went and got food. Elder Seng took care of me and got me some rice porridge, but at the very end he told them to "dak chiam" which means add blood... I was a little worried. When I got my food there was coagulated pigs blood and lots of other mystery meat... I felt bad not eating it,so I just ate a little here and there and then finally asked him what the "meat" was. Turns out it was lungs (not that bad) and intestines (which I did not eat...), but other than that it was pretty chngaan (tasty). 

The Royal Palace-I figured I had to go, even if I looked like a tourist. There was a little space in front with grass and there were just people everywhere just hanging out. OH, and birds. Hundreds and hundreds of doves and pigeons... I was DYING!!!! (note from Mom-Sister Loftus is terrified of birds) They had corn to feed them, so Elder Seng bought us some corn and I did not want to feed them because getting out the food meant that they swarmed us... but they thought it was fun, so I was just having a heart attack for a little bit. We made friends with the little ragamuffin kids that were selling the corns and they told us to get in the Palace was $2-$3. Sweet!!! But for Elder Seng it was only 25 cents. What??? So we went up and it was not $3.... I speak their language but I still had to pay $6.50 to get in. Are you kidding me? Sometimes I think this white skin is a curse... and the little kids lied to us... haha but it was okay. We saw some cool buildings, took some good pictures, and laughed a ton!!! Then on the way home we were following Elder Maurer, because we thought he knew where he was going, but he didn't... so we biked for a good 2 hours around Cambodia. It would have been nice, except for the fact I still wasn't 100% healthy... we were biking over bridges, the equivalent of freeway overpasses, two of them, and I thought I was going to die... but we made it home and instead of dying I just laid in the fetal position for 5 minutes to regain my energy. 
I'll be honest... I don't really remember much of what happened other than p-day... after so long everything just kind of blurs together... um, Tuesday it rained cats and dogs, that is the saying right?? It was like biking through a river. Super fun. (: but everyone gets way worried about us. they tell us not to fall in pipes... haha I just laugh at them and say okay and take off. (: It’s quite the adventure!!! Gotta love it. (: 

Wednesday we went to visit a member with a less active daughter, Ming Niat and Dane, remember them?? Well Dane wouldn't meet with us, so we met with Ming Niat and it was a way good lesson. She is the coolest and knows SO much. She fed us after the lesson; told us that she wanted us to experience traditional Khmer food. She brings out this bowl of soup and sets it down. It looks pretty harmless and quite tasty, but then I went to put it on my rice and saw the little shrimps and fish heads with their little beady eyes, just staring at me (both about the size of a dime). I tried to avoid eating them, but towards the end it was too hard because there were too many, so we (Sister Luke and me) started smashing them up... it was still pretty tasty, but just knowing that you were eating fish heads was a little nasty... but we were grateful for her kindness and willingness to feed us. (: 

Friday I went on an exchange with Sister Cook, don't hate me but I didn't take any pictures... so you guys won't know what she looks like, but it was SO fun. I got to go back and serve in Tuol Kork, my birth area, for a day and it was the best thing ever!!! We didn't meet any of the people that I was really close with, but the members still remembered me and were so impressed with my Khmer skills. Night and day when you compare me in training, not talking at all, to now talking all the time. I got lots and lots of comments. (: It felt good to realize how much I have progressed and changed on my mission. The lord works miracles!!! Also, the Lords work is progressing. Tuol Kork has had so much success. I loved seeing that!!! This church is true. (: 

Saturday we met with my most favorite people ever. Dohla and Zeekaa!!! I just love them so much. Dohla is the cutest thing ever and has such a strong desire to learn the truth. She just sits there and soaks it all in, even though she doesn't understand like at all, that's okay because her faith is strong enough and she has enough people to teach her when we aren't there.  One day it will all click. She read and prayed!!! Golden. (: I wanted to take a picture, but forgot. next week for sure. Then Zeekaa. She is still doing good. We taught her about faith and Alma 32. She answered all our questions perfectly and shared great insights. The Lord really did prepare her to become a member of this church. Still waiting to teach her family, but one day they will start learning!!! 

That's all I’ve got for this week. Hope all is going well in America!! I love you all so much!!! 

Sister Loftus 
Double D 

Outside the Royal Palace

Sister Loftus, Sister Luke, Elder Seng, and Elder Maurer

Pictures of the Royal Palace

The shades of Cambodia.  Guess which one I am? 

Kicking it in the rain-Sister Loftus and Sister Luke

Notice how deep the water is?

Sister Luke and Sister Loftus-not sure what is going on

Don't worry...if you look hard enough you can see angels protecting us!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Faith, Sickness, and a Baptism!!!

Dear Family and Friends, 

I have nothing to talk about this week... actually that's a lie WE HAD A BAPTISM!!!!! But I will get to that in a second... let me start from the very beginning.  

Tuesday we had zone conference. I absolutely love zone conferences. President and Sister Christensen are the coolest. We talked a lot about having the faith to see miracles. It was definitely directed to me. I’ve been kind of faithless lately with finding new investigators and less actives coming to church, but it was a nice slap in the face to wake up my faith and get me ready to see miracles. The AP's shared a way cool story. It hit me way hard, so hopefully you guys like it too. 

The Unmoved Rock

Once upon a time, there was a man who was sleeping at night in his cabin when suddenly his room filled with light and the Savior appeared. The Lord told the man He had work for him to do, and showed him a large rock in front of his cabin. The Lord explained that the man was to push against the rock with all his might. This the man did, day after day. For many years he toiled from sun up to sun down, his shoulders set squarely against the cold, massive surface of the unmoving rock, pushing with all his might.

Each night the man returned to his cabin sore and worn out, feeling that his whole day had been spent in vain. Seeing that the man was showing signs of discouragement, Satan decided to enter the picture placing thoughts into the man's mind such as: "You have been pushing against that rock for a long time, and it hasn't budged. Why kill yourself over this? You are never going to move it." Thus giving the man the impression that the task was impossible and that he was a failure.

These thoughts discouraged and disheartened the man even more. "Why kill myself over this?" he thought. "I'll just put in my time, giving just the minimum of effort and that will be good enough." And that he planned to do until one day he decided to make it a matter of prayer and take his troubled thoughts to the Lord.

"Lord," he said, "I have laboured long and hard in your service, putting all my strength to do that which you have asked. Yet, after all this time, I have not even budged that rock a half a millimeter. What is wrong? Why am I failing?" To this the Lord responded compassionately, "My child, when long ago I asked you to serve me and you accepted, I told you that your task was to push against the rock with all your strength, which you have done. Never once did I mention to you that I expected you to move it. Your task was to push.

And now you come to me, your strength spent, thinking that you have failed. But, is that really so? Look at yourself. Your arms are strong and muscled, your back sinewed and brown, your hands are callused from constant pressure, and your legs have become massive and hard. Through opposition, you have grown much and your abilities now surpass that which you used to have. Yet you haven't moved the rock. But your calling was to be obedient and to push and to exercise your faith and trust in My wisdom. This you have done. I, my child, will now move the rock."

It just made me think so much about my mission and what I thought it was going to be compared to what it has been. I learned so much. Much of what I learned was pretty personal, so I won't share it, but just read this story, ponder it, and learn what the lord wants YOU to learn from it. Sister Christensen taught about the culture, specifically about Angkor Watt. I was blown away. It’s SO cool and it made me way ticked because when I went last month I had NO idea how cool it actually was. Now I just really really want to go back!!!! haha 

Wednesday was a normal day and then we went to prepare our English class and I started feeling way sick. I was super out of it and quite honestly, that whole night is a blur. I don't remember any of it, but Sister Luke tells me our lesson was really really good and I gave a great spiritual thought on the word of wisdom, so that's cool. Thursday I woke up feeling super super gross. I spent a way long time in the bathroom; so long that Sister Luke was able to work out AND stretch. To say I was sick is an understatement. Being sick as a missionary is literally the worst because staying inside makes you feel like the worst missionary ever and that you are letting the lord down, but after a good talking to from Sister Luke and Sister Brown, my STL (Sister Training Leader), I decided staying in and sleeping was the best option. I slept for a good 3 hours. When I woke up, I had to call the elders for something and apparently I sounded like death because Elder Seng asked me what was wrong... I told him I was sick, I spared him all the gory details, and he felt so bad that he made and brought us food!!! He is the sweetest. Long story short much of Thursday and Friday were spent in the bathroom... Saturday I was feeling a little bit better so we went to English class. The bike ride is about 20 minutes and it about killed me... haha so we took the afternoon easy but then we went out and got a new investigator and got a baptism!!! Sunday we just went to church and then chilled at home because I was still super sick and weak and Sister Luke was too scared to make the trek to the airport (our furthest area, about 45 minutes away). I hadn't really been eating anything, so she thought I was going to pass out... so we stayed home and I made Bou bou (rice porridge).  This is what all the Khmers make here if you are sick. Super good!!! but I am feeling a little better now... 

Our new investigator-her name is TohLaa (October in Khmer) and she is 14. She is the cutest thing ever. She is the niece of a recent convert. We went to teach her and had 3 members helping us. Pretty cool. She is originally from a province, kind of far away and she's here with her extended family, not really sure why yet... we were teaching her prayer and I like to use the analogy of calling home, but as I starting teaching it she just started bawling. Like literally sobbing... it broke my heart. She really really missed her mom and dad. I don't know what I said to comfort her but next thing I knew she had prayed (a great prayer, might I add), she stopped crying, and she gave me the biggest huge. I love her already!! And she came to church. She's super awesome!!! 

ZEEKAA!!!! The long awaited baptism. Goodness. It feels so good saying that she is now a member of the church. The baptism was supposed to be at five, but both people getting baptized, Zeekaa and Chantrea (an investigator of the elders) were late, so we just kicked it at the church until they got there. haha it was fine though because the font wasn't even filled up yet. Sister Luke gave a killer talk on the Holy Ghost. She was really really nervous, but she did a fantastic job and Zeekaa loved it!!!! Zeekaa said she wasn't nervous, but then as she was getting in the font she said "why are my feet shaking??"haha I just laughed. Elder Otto baptized her and it was the coolest thing. He’s a new koon too, so still struggling with the language a little, but we had called him the night before and told him that Zeekaa wanted him to baptize her and that he needed to start practicing the prayer. Every time we saw him we had him recite the prayer. He killed it!!! Did a great job. After, when Zeekaa was changing she said "Sister, I feel so good." ah, exactly what you want to hear. (; Then during her testimony she bore a super powerful testimony about how the lord had prepared a way for her to find the one true church and become a daughter of god. I was so proud of her!!!! She said she liked the way she was feeling and that she felt different from before, but a good kind of different. Ah, I love her!!! It had been a while since I’d had a baptism... I forgot how good it felt to help others find the light of the gospel. It was a lot less stressful than I remember.... maybe because Zeekaa had prepared herself, with the help of the spirit, 100% to get baptized. I didn't doubt our decision to baptize her AT ALL!!! She is the best!!! This work is the coolest EVER!!! 

Sunday we had church and we actually got to watch conference again... haha the things that happen in Cambodia. I just love it. (: And then I talked to Ming Samay, a member here, she is my Khmer mom, about my sickness. and she FREAKED!!! she thought I was dying... then when we got home, she called me to check up on me and told me that she really really cares about me and was worried about me. I’m so grateful the Lord is allowing me to meet these amazing people!!! I love her!! 

Hopefully I can keep getting better and it's not anything too serious and that we can resurrect our area from the week that we had... our numbers, not that it's all about numbers, cause it's not, but maybe this week we can get some good numbers. (: 

Love you all!!!! 

Sister Loftus
Double D 

P.S. Forgot to mention. Elder Otto gave me a great blessing on Friday!!! So grateful for the priesthood in my life!!!!! and worthy priesthood holders. Those here in Cambodia and those back in America!!!! 

Zeekaa and a darling Cambodian baby

Zeekaa and Chantrea's baptism

A Baptism!!!!!

Zeekaa's baptism with Sister Luke and Sister Loftus

Sister Loftus looking like death

Monday, October 10, 2016

Obviously I loved Conference

Dear Family and Friends,

So it is currently 6 o'clock at night. Yes, koh cbab (against the rules) but we had a crazy day. We went with our zone leaders at 8am this morning to help an Om move houses... it was only supposed to take an hour and then we could have a normal p-day. Like everything else in Cambodia, it didn't go as planned and we didn't leave until 1... but it was okay because I love our zone leaders, Elder Maurer and Elder Seng; laughing with them for 5 hours was good. Needless to say we had to do a little adjusting to get everything done that we needed to... the zone leaders gave us permission to email right now, so I guess it's not that against the rules. But moving houses is way hard work especially with all the stuff that she had. She lives alone but had SO MUCH STUFF. Therefor I am way way way tired right now and don't really have the energy to type a good email. SORRY!!!!! 

P-day we went bowling-not much to say about that except it was a bad idea. It made me so so so trunky. Complete throwback to thunder alley and Bountiful Bowl with the crew... it was bad.... but so much fun. You guys have never experienced true happiness until you have seen a Khmer bowl. Oh my goodness. The best thing ever!!!! 

We finally met with a less active. I thought she hated us and was ignoring us. We kept trying to meet her and her daughter kept telling us that she wasn't home... I didn't believe her, but really wanted to let her know that we cared, so we kept going. Righteous persistence is always rewarded with blessings. We met her and had a way good lesson with her. 

Conference. I don't even know what to say. My subject is pretty clear. I loved it. Like I always do, but I am way sad that that was my last one as a missionary because conference as a missionary is the best thing ever!!!! I really really liked all the talks about Joy and how that is the purpose of this gospel. That’s exactly what I’m trying to do here in Cambodia. Bring them all joy; even if they don't want to accept it, I will keep trying. Also, worshiping. That’s something we can all work on. None of our Sundays are perfectly spent thinking about the savior. Make it better to become holier. Also, I love that conference is so individual. I’m not even going to bother telling you guys everything I learned because, if you watched, and I hope you all did, you should have received some personal revelation of your own. So now what??? Act on it!!!! Make goals and commitments to yourself. Watch your life start changing. Allow the savior to make you something amazing. Something we cannot become on our own. Ah, I love this gospel so much and my savior, Jesus Christ. We are a part of something so cool. Every time one of the big hitters got up I would just look at my comp and say man, I love them. They are so amazing. And she would just laugh at me. She even called me a nerd once. I just really really love this gospel and conference. (: 

In between conference sessions on Sunday we ate as a zone and it was way good. grilled cheeses and fajitas. haha weird mix, but oh, so good. We made over 20 grilled cheeses and lots and lots of tortillas. Good times, good times. (: 

That's all I’ve got. Just know that I love you all and I’m still kicking here in Cambodia; loving and making the most out of every day. LOVE YOU!!!! OH!!!! Almost forgot. BAPTISM next week. Zeekaa is still shining bright. GET EXCITED!!!!!! 

Sister Loftus
Double D

Bowling, Khmer style

Selfie. Yes, he is sitting on my lap

Conference, Missionary Style!

She is a member that served in England and she wanted to watch conference in English, so we were just in a trio for a day. She really wants to be a missionary again.  


Cambodian kids

More cute kids

Hanging with the Elders. Very low ceilings!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Another Week in Cambodia!

Dear Family and Friends, 
Well, this week was WAY LONG and not a lot happened cause Pchum Bun... remember that holiday from last year? The 15 day long holiday where they celebrate the dead and go back to their sroks (hometowns) and go to the wat and drink beer and make missionary work for us basically impossible? Yep, it happened once again.
We started the week off way good by watching women's conference with all the sisters in the city and Sister Christensen and all the senior sisters. It was the best!!! Conference is already way good, but then you get like 16 missionaries in one room and the spirit is incredible. I loved it so so so much and it got me WAY pumped for conference. We get to watch it this week and I can't wait. Singing the last song, I Know That My Redeemer Lives, was really powerful and brought almost all of us to tears. It was a way cool experience. I was really touched by it because that is the message we are taking to the Khmers, that their savior lives and he loves them more than they can even comprehend, even if they have never heard about him before. AH, this church is the best!!!! And to make that way good opportunity even better, Sister Christensen had food for us: rice krispies, homemade cookies (which are to die for) chips and salsa, you know, a real good spread. So tasty. (: 
Tuesday was the beginning of everyone evacuation the city... so we didn't really have much work to do. I mean you typically don't have much work to do, but then the people who we normally meet leave the city and we've got nothing to do, so we took the time to have a bonding activity with our district. We had district meeting and then we cooked food together, perks of having a Khmer district leader... there was SO much food and it was chngan chngan. So delicious. Like mouth watering... and we just laughed and talked with each other. I really really love our district so much. And it was a good thing we did that because transfer calls came and both the Khmers, Elder Seng and Elder Ouk, who are my new favorite people in the world, literally best friends. I am convinced we were best friends in the preexistence, are leaving... I am so bummed!!! But Sister Luke and I are da dael (the same) so I was really really happy about that. (: But we (Sister Luke and I) made a cake for district meeting. Better than anything cake Khmer style, which is just a chocolate cake with sweetened condensed milk poured over the top cause that's all we can find here without spending a fortune. But it's still so so so good and the Khmers LOVED it, so that was good. It was a great day. (: 
Wednesday was a pretty normal day. We actually had 3 lessons, which was crazy!!! We had a really good lesson with one of our members whose daughter is less active. We’ve been working a lot with them lately, Ming Niat and Danee. We taught her about Mosiah 27: 8-14 which is perfect for her situation!!!! And she thanked us multiple times and said that it was exactly what she needed. I love them both so much. Danee was actually sad when we came and asked to meet with her mom instead of her. That’s always a good sign, right?? (: 
Friday we cleaned our house. Like deep deep cleaned it. I was way sweaty by the end and had to clean up some way nasty crap... not even sure what it was, but I think there were worms growing in it... maybe that's what's been making Sister Luke and me so sick lately... haha but now it's all gone, so we'll get healthy. It took us a good 5 1/2 hours though... because our house is four floors and there are only two of us.... but we bonded and I was WAY grateful that Sister Luke is as cool as she is because if I didn't like her I think I would have died... but we are best friends and we just sung and the top of our lungs and laughed about all the crazy things we had to clean. Good times for sure. (: After cleaning we went to the South Stake Center to watch Ephraim’s Rescue. I’m not going to say a ton about it, only that it WAS SO GOOD!!!! All of you should watch it. I’m not sure if it's really that good or if I just loved it so much because I’m a missionary. (; But you guys should still watch it because the stories in there are incredible!!!! I was way pumped to go out and do missionary work, but then NO ONE was home, so we sat inside for the next three days and just looked at records and organized and tried to contact with very little success. But now everyone is coming home and things will start picking up again.(: 
Zeekaa is still doing really really well. We didn't meet with her this past week. She didn't answer her phone, but she came to church and is still so good!!! Her baptism got moved to the 15th because of conference next week, but we are still way excited!!!! 
Sister Loftus
Double D 
P.S. just a little disclaimer... I have hit the point on my mission where all my English just goes out the window, so if this doesn't seem like a very well written email, I am sorry... (: 

Our spread of food at District Meeting

Best crew ever

Cute picture with Sister Luke and Sister Loftus

Our "supposed to be cute" praying pic that all sister missionaries take, but it didn't work... haha

Rocking the cleaning mask

Elder Maurer downing the crazy burger at Mikes Burgers which is the equivalent of In n Out. SO GOOD!!!! The burger he ate had like 12 patties, fried eggs, it was HUGE... I watched him eat it all for 30 minutes and just thought "Man, I want to see Hayden try and eat this. He could totally do it." 

Donuts because this week we ate 5 each in just 2 days. (: don't worry i'm not getting fat. ahaha