Monday, April 9, 2018

Kidney Stone Miracle

This is a letter written to me from my sweet girl, Sister Jex. She is an amazing missionary. 

As some of you may know, I had an unusual experience when I was about ten years old of passing a kidney stone.
Well, ladies and gents....

It made a comeback.

As typical of Wednesday, I was in the city, and getting my bags, and Sister Tran(my new companion), moved into our new house, when I started to feel a little uncomfortable on my right side on my back. At first I thought it was probably just a muscle strain from lifting heavy luggage and boxes, or something, so I paid no attention to it. But as we sat down to plan, I noticed it was getting a little worse. 'This is weird,' I thought, but I also wanted to get to know our area, so I thought to ignore it, again. 
Long story short, within twenty minutes, I was curled up on the couch with an excruciating pain in my back right side. It hurt to breathe, I couldn't sit up, and yet.... I knew, I had experienced this before. 
"Sister," I said to my worried, and brand-new companion. "I think I have a kidney stone." 

And a crazy tuk-tuk ride to the mission home, a blessing, and a visit to the hospital complete with IV and ultrasound later, we knew that yes. I, indeed, did pass a kidney stone.

Now here's the miracle part of it all: The last time I had a kidney stone, when I was ten, the doctors told us that it would pass in a couple of days, and that I would just have the peachy time of being able to suffer through it for a little while, but as I had the ultrasound, the doctor looked at me, and back at the screen, and back at me and said "Well, we can see the dilation that shows that you definitely had one, and of a pretty good size enough to give you a high amount of pain, but for whatever reason... it's already gone, now." 
How was it already gone?

Now, I can't give you a scientific answer on how the stone physically left my kidney, but I know with all my heart it was due to the power of God. Sister Tran had managed to get us to the mission home instead of the hospital in her broken khmer, which is where the Mission president's wife had asked us to go in the first place, but that gave the office elders the opportunity to give me a blessing of healing, which they did, before going to the hospital. After I received the blessing, my pain started to become more, and more bearable, to the point that when we arrived at the hospital, and they laid me down on the bed, I almost felt like we didn't even need to be here, and after we left, it never came back. It was crazy how fast it went away, and I know for sure it's because of the power of the priesthood.
I am so grateful that God loves us enough to give us His power, and I'm grateful for the men of this church that are worthy to hold it, that we may all be blessed by it. I know that the priesthood has blessed me throughout my life, but this last week really helped me remember how much it could help me personally.

Because of our crazy adventures to the hospital, and because of the AWESOMENESS OF CONFERENCE, Sister Tran and I have not been able to do a ton of proselyting, but I am super stoked for this next week. It's going to be really exciting, with a lot of contacting, because everyone Sister Tran knows is leaving to the provinces for the Khmer New Year. But have no fear, we'll make it work somehow :) Anyway, I'm still loving life, and now feeling on top of the world. I hope you all have a wonderful week, and know that God is looking after each of you.

Much love,
Sister Jex

Friday, March 16, 2018

My Testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

"She waited for me" 

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Words can't even fully express how grateful I am to have your support. The strength from the support has helped me through the experiences of the mission.The mission truly is a life-changing journey. At first, I did not think that I could make it through, but through the strength of the Lord, I was able to see His hands embracing me every step of the way.  The last week of my mission, especially has been very special. I was able to share the Gospel in places where it has not been voiced before and to people who may have never heard or known of Jesus Christ. I was able to travel miles to see people of my blood and to tell them that I love them, that God loves them. The lord gave me the opportunity to see my family and to share of the Gospel beyond the veil, to do family history work. I was able to meet with my birth dad, who I have net met in years. I was able to see family members who I have never met before. One of the most special experiences was visiting both of my grandmas. 
I remember an experience of getting out of the car into the pure jungle and how nature was calling me deeper into the land of my forefathers. Before even leaving my foot prints on the ground, I saw grandma waiting for me. She couldn't walk well at all, but she abruptly stood up and tried as hard as she could to walk, in her unsteady and trudging manner,  towards me. I dropped my bags and everything else and ran towards her. Tears just started to pour out as I looked into her eyes and hugged her. Surely, the spirit testifies of God's love for her. We spent almost the entire day together and talking about our family history and all of her walks of life and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, with faith, repentance, baptism and enduring in this life. It was a miracle that grandma gave me the permission to do temple work for the family. While grandma rested, my birth dad took me to our family farm. It was surreal. I came back and served grandma until she fell asleep. It was surely difficult to say goodbye to her, a heart wrenching moment, but I had to go. She had waited to meet me for years. Oh how I wish I could take her and all of the people I've shared the Gospel with me, just to come home with me. However, God has taught me what true home means, that no matter where you are the Gospel is there.
For the last 6 months of my mission, the Lord called me to serve in one of the poorest areas in Cambodia. Truly, my heart has been touched every single day. It hit me that the suffering they had wasn't of the temporal, or of whether they had a tangible refuge to rest in or neither the suffering that comes from whether they will have food for tomorrow, but rather the suffering was that they felt far from Heavenly Father's presence and that they were hopeless. I testify that when the missionaries enter people's homes, there is much love and light. As said by Elder Neal Maxwell, within whatever is allotted to us, there is contentment,  our spiritual contentment rest on our acceptance of the Gospel, it's central power of the atonement of Jesus Christ. I can't take these humble home with me, but I know that a part of my converted heart is there in their homes even when I have left and I know that a part of their conversion is here with me, jotted down in my very heart, as well.  

For me, the meaning of home permanently became true and complete when I found the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Home became complete when I knew that I have a Heavenly Father who loves me. I learned about Heavenly Father through the Gospel of Jesus Christ I got baptized when I turned 18 years old. The Gospel of Jesus has given me the desire to help others understand their true identity and their heavenly home . A year later,  I decided to serve an LDS mission and was called to return back to serve in the land of my forefathers, Cambodia. I was able to go through experiences of spectrums of what is like to be rich and poor, to feel joy and pain. Sharing the Gospel was a way I could help others understand how to have joy in their earthly home while drawing closer to their Heavenly home. Home to me no more became a physically tangible abode, but it is a state of happiness achieved through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a state of joy that can be taken wherever I go. It is that greater light that chases the shadows and hopelessness of life. My journey in this life has given me a glimpse of what it feels to be fully embraced in the arms of my Heavenly Father when I do return back home to Him. It is the very experience of how I can turn my heart and will to God, to fully collapse in His embrace. The more I turn and return to my father, I understand more of the compassion, love, and mercy He has for me.  The Gospel is where true home is. No matter where I serve, the message of eternal hope and embrace is the same throughout the word .Home truly is where individual evolves to become themselves, in their spiritual nature. My nature has changed along with the nature of the meaning of home. No matter if I am physically separated from my family, I know that there is hope in being united eternally. The idea of family uniting together eternally  is what makes up the home. It is the very experience of how I can turn my heart and will to God, to fully collapse in His embrace.
I have given all that I can to serve the Lord and I have seen suffering and joy, all of which strengthened the purpose of God's plan for His children. Because Christ lives, I am too His living witness to the world that there is hope in the Gospel and in life here on earth and the life after. I testify that God truly is our loving Heavenly Father and that He loves us so much to send His Son here, so that I can one day be there with my family, eternally in my Heavenly home. I know the Book of Mormon is true and this church is true. I know Jesus Christ is my savior. In my utmost humility to be his disciple, I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
With Love and Gratitude,
Sophia Sok
  "I pledge my life, all that I may have. I will strive to the utmost of my ability to be what you would want me to be. I am grateful for the words of Jesus Christ, our Savior, when he said: "I stand at the door and knock. If any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him. . . ." (Rev. 3:20.)"- President Thomas S. Monson.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Sharing of the Gospel here in Cambodia

Sunday January 28, 2018 at 11:18PM

Hello Hello Hello!

I hope you are all doing well!

Last week was full of miracles. President and his wife blessed us with the opportunity to do zone conferences and trainings across the country of Cambodia. It was such a spiritual road trip! We went to provinces over Cambodia and held zone conferences there! It was an amazing and enlightening   experience. One of the tender mercies came from unintentionally riding the mission car from the Siem Reap Province to Battambang province. On the way there, I kept thinking of my grandpa's house. Then! when we drove passed an old familiar hiking place and we saw a big Buddha statue on top of the mountain. Right then, I knew where I was! It was my grandpa's house a mile off of the mountain. I remember how shocked I was to be passing by my forefather's house. We were all so surprised!  President stopped his car right away and we turned around to see my grandpa's house. My grandpa passed away years a go, so there is no one living there. It has been abandoned for about years now and the inside rooms were closed off, but my family( on mom's side)  would go back every now and then to visit it. The spirit of love and peace was absolutely there! I can only remember being there as a little girl and staying there as our summer home when I would visit my grandpa. I believe the house was built when my grandparent's just got married, or even right after the Khmer Rouge.  I can feel the love of God and my grandpa so strongly there. Looking at every part that makes up the house brought me back to my childhood. The six of us, president, the APs, my comp and I walked around the house. I remember a specific moment when we went upstairs and I stood there reminiscing where my grandpa and I would lay on the wooden floor. It was so a sweet experience! The strings that were supposed to be attached to the hammock were still there. I feel so honored to have an experience as such. I am grateful for the Lord.

When my companion and I got the opportunity to go back to my training area, Battambang this week, we spent some times visiting our RCs. I am touched by the continuous tender mercies of the Lord. We went back to Recent Convert family's house. We decided to surprise her in the morning. We knocked on the door and as she opens the gate, she was so surprised! She started crying and I started crying and we could not help to just feel so much love God has for that family. It has been almost year and a half that I haven't seen her. Her grandchild has grown so much! We found out that the family is preparing to go to the temple. My companion and I sat closely to the woman and listened to stories  and experiences of how the Gospel has changed her life. She said that she had been praying ( ever since she had known of the Gospel) for her village family to open their hearts and to receive the Gospel as well. Because of her faith and her character of a deliberate disciple, she was able to share the Gospel and many of the souls in her village enter into the covenants with the Lord. She had told us of how those around her started to recognize the power that comes from faith in Jesus Christ. They recognized that in no way was it her husband's self-exerted power to stop smoking, drinking in one day and how he stopped living unrighteous habits from his own will power.  The change, the peace, and the happiness that family shows to those around their village brought those around her to gain the witness of repentance in their own lives as well. I know that this work is all done through the saving atoning power of Jesus Christ. I know this to be true and I'd give up anything to treasure the truth I witnessed. Jesus Christ lives and because of this I, too have hope to go on. I am honored by the Lord's words and tender hands in the miracles I witness in my life and the lives of others. My greatest of joy is from sharing the Gospel.

We had a baptism of a mother and a son this weekend. It was very sweet to see how the Gospel has helped the young woman gain more hope in not just for herself, her son, and those around her. She is such a sincere seeker of the Gospel. She has been learning for about 7 weeks and it has been inspiring to see the changes she experienced and bore in her life every time we would go and teach her. Her path of continuous conversion is bringing more happiness to her family's life. She told us that she has been seeking the truth for the longest of time and a distinct point in which the Lord blessed her came when she prayed inside her house to know of the true Gospel. Right after she had opened her eyes. Two missionaries walked by and asked if she is a follower of Jesus Christ. From that point on to now, she has constantly received the confirming witness that the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Book of Mormon is true. It was really nice to also see how the members would be apart of the witness. A woman in the ward would go to her house prior she was baptized and would read the Book of Mormon with her along with bearing her testimony.

With Love and gratitude,
Sister Sok

Sister McIllece and I got the permission to visit the Ancient Ruins of Angkor Wat for my last transfer in the country!

We got to personal study during the sunrise in front of Angkor Wat! A few minutes in the studies, a couple of monkeys ran towards us and hah one stood right in front of us and looked at our breakfast and looked back at us, then looked back at the breakfast and snatched it from us.

Ming Sophea and her son at the baptism

A pic of Oum Vanny (fam RC) and her grandchild!
Grandpa's house!
Angkor Wat

With Love!

Sunday January 14, 2018 at 10:32PM

Hello Hello Hello!

Sister Mcillece and I are doing well! We are working together to build unity in the church and in setting goals for the four focused key indicators for this transfer! We are really excited for this transfer and for the goals we've set. I am really happy to have her as my last companion :). I believe we really do compliment each other. Sister McIllece is an amazing and hard working missionary. We are learning more and more in being patient with certain things that are out of her control. She is an angel. Also, we recently picked up the new missionaries from the MTC at the Phnom Penh Airport last week. Man, they are glowing! We are really excited to help them adjust to the mission culture here in Cambodia and to assist and serve them with the training they need!

Recently, we are really impressed with the Steung Meanchey ward council meeting ( in Ward 1). Almost all of the leaders, representing their classes were there, with the Bishop leading the meeting. There were all participating and hah biting for the goals for this year in building up the ward. They were also offering insights to make the goals as realistic as possible, but optimistically enough to be reached. I believe the numbers in representing those priceless souls will elevate their faith and as well as their work ethics. They went on to continue to set goals of how many of members they hope to attain in each class and have totaled them up for the attendance of sacrament meeting. They followed up with visiting teaching and made sure that it becomes a regular activity for the ward members. They were thorough in discussing ways they could reach the goals.  We so love the spirit of unity in the room. We also joined in another ward council meeting, except this one was specifically for the youths of the church. The leader of the meeting set up the visiting/home teaching for the young women and young men. The execution of the meeting was done well. They had the young woman and young men that represent the 3 wards of Steung Meanchey meet up together and break up into teams for the visiting teachings/home teachings on Sunday morning before their service in the afternoon. They used the CBR book as a resource for help.  The leader of the meeting followed up the next Sunday ward council meeting on each of the visiting teacher's report and what they could do to continually build the relationship with the youths and LA families they visited. They were also asked to share what they had learn from the experience that personally built their faith and the miracles that came from their service. One young man shared that he inspired a LA active youth to have hope in preparing for his own mission and how the experience gave him, the ministerer, the lens into the missionary work. One also shared how the people he planned to visit fell through, but how he had pushed on to find those who needs him more that day. I have hope in the future local missionaries here and to see them as the firm link in the chain of building up the Lord's Kingdom in a land where the church is still very new here. Also the RC class in ward 1 was incredible! We got around a total number of almost 20 investigators in the room. We could barely fit in the chairs! The lord has been blessing both missionaries and ward members in Stueng Meanchey. One of our investigators even had a miracle during the sacrament meeting. She had lost her valued earring on her left ear and tried so hard to find them. She hastily ran back and forth to search for them. She had put her trust in the Lord that whatever happens, it would be up to His Will. During the sacramental service, she told us she had prayed so hard and heard her son's voice saying "Mom, your earring is attached to one of your shoes after closing her prayer and partaking of the sacrament! She was so happy and blessed to have experienced that! The ward members were so excited and supported her miraculous experience! I am really grateful for the ward members here in Steung Meanchey and for the further growth and learning curves they will value.

For ward 3, we worked together with the Bishop in ways we could bring more unity and inclusion back to the ward. We had asked all of the members to come to the ward to bring their own foods to the potluck and to eat and enjoy the food together each 2nd second Sunday of the month. It touched my heart to see how they were all sitting together, laughing, and enjoying the warmth comfort of love and charity.  Ward 3 is still needing some more help in making sure people are receiving their callings and magnifying them. What we are struggling with is being patient with investigators facing different circumstances. The ward faces a lot of illnesses and struggles with financial stability. Sister McIllece and I are learning to be more understanding and learning to minister to those of diverse hardships/ trials/ circumstances, especially those destitute souls in trash mountain.  I am amazed with the humble souls who are seeking to preach and at the same time, repenting to be become what the Lord shapes them to be.  Missionary work truly is changing people's lives for the better. I can testify that it has brought so much light in my life.

With love and gratitude,
Sister Sok​

A Day in a life! + Service Pics

Sunday January 07, 2018 at 10:06PM

Missionary life in Cambodia!

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Christmas in Cambodia

Monday December 25, 2017 at 12:13am

For this week, the spirit of Christmas manifested itself in ways I could not imagine it would. So many humbling experiences entered my life that week. I feel that the spirit of love, understanding and unity within the community of the church and the people I came in contact with. I got to witness, even at the tip of an ice berg of how the Savior feels as he offers his hands to the lives of those who are humble to receive them. We got to witness the pure love a father has for his daughter at a baptism yesterday. It was just so sincere.  The father got really shy to say the baptismal prayer, but tried again and again, because he loves his daughter. A heart touching moment was when a senior couple went up to him and asked me to translate to him that " one day, you are going to a great leader of the church". I felt the spirit surging all around us. I just felt like their was a pause in the moment and I wish I could capture it forever. The man started to tear up, said thank you so sincerely and walked a way. The power that comes from those words of affirmation strengthened the man's faith to continue to serve.The father's strive to live worthy for God and his family is so inspiring. The moment after the baptism, we found him and his family laying down on the cement ground outside the church. We asked them if they were going to go home, but they told us that they didn't have enough money to commute back to their house to get lunch in between and to come back for the church service. We could tell they were starving. All of the members from joining the baptismal service had already left and it was too late to ask anyone to help the family out at the time. Sister McIllece and I looked at each other and felt such a strong impression to go home and come back with the large meal that we both knew we could not finish if it was just the two of it.  We got home and made food in 15 minutes, haha and rode back to the church to eat with them. The moment they saw us entering the church gate, a sense of hope filled their hearts. The daughter smiled so much. Her father could not fathom the miracle that just happen through his sacrifice for the Lord. One of the happiest moments that I have felt is such an experience as this one. The fact that I got to see a family eating together with hope and food to fill their stomachs was such a great sight. To see the Father expressing to his children through his heart that God does answer prayers and is aware of their needs.  Right after we finished with the food, we had two new investigators who had been seeking the Gospel, walking in the church, while more investigators of ours started to arrive at church  hah like all together. at once. Brothers and sisters, I have a testimony of charity and love. I have a testimony of giving. I know that we can all make that difference as we listen to the spirit of the hearts of those around us and the rhythms that beat, to that still and small voice, to share selfless love to those around us.

Merry Christmas

With love and gratitude,

Sister Sok