Monday, November 28, 2011

сахайн сансар

Editor's Note:  See Elder Jolley's blog for new photos of Travis.  And as always, Elder Jolley has an excellent blog entry about the past week.

Hey Everyone,

Another great week in Sansar, culminating in the baptism of Brother Ganbold.  He wanted to be baptized on the date that we had originally set so we had to finish up the fourth lesson this week in two segments.  The first being last Monday when we taught him the law of tithing.  When we began the lesson he told us that he had already heard about the law of tithing and was excited to hear more.

We began by sharing the origins and the blessings that accompany this law.  After sharing a few scriptures we asked if there were any questions.  Just one.  Ganbold has been working hard to sell his house for the last couple weeks and has found a buyer.  He asked us if it would be alright to pay tithing on his house before he became a church member.  Needless to say, jaws hit the floor.   It was an unbelievably humbling experience to see the astounding faith of this brother.  We encountered a similar experience when we taught about fasting and fast offerings the next day.  After the lesson he asked if he could fast the next day and pay fast offerings even though it wasn't Fast Sunday.  Again humbled, I learned a great deal about true thanksgiving, as this man continued to teach me far more than we taught him.  We continued to meet with our new members this week and are scheduled to attend a family home evening with the lesson centered on families and temple blessings.

  Investigators continued to find us this week as we ran into a man who just finished 10 years in prison and wants to turn his life around.  And then two nights ago we met a Canadian woman crying outside the church building.  She said she was a less active member and was here teaching English.  She said she really wanted to come back to church and felt good just being in the building.  Both of these stories to be continued.

  This week I went on my first real split as myself and  a 17 year old church member took off two nights ago to teach a lesson to an investigating family. Before we left, my new companion assured me that he had a phone so we could call Elder Jolley just in case we ran into trouble.  I was pretty sure I could find the house (about a 20 minute walk away) so we started off in the right direction. After about 15 minutes I was pretty sure we were lost.  I gave it my best shot, but thought "let's call Elder Jolley."  When Boyanbataar pulled out his cellphone it was dead.  He than began asking everyone on the street if they knew where the building was.  No one knew.  I had a general sense of where we were and where we needed to be. So we started walking.  After about twenty minutes more we found it after making a giant circle around the area.  (at this point I'm realizing that I've probably told you something like three getting lost stories)  Anyway we made it.  I taught the Plan of Salvation for about ten minutes (which is 10 minutes longer than I could have taught it three months ago).  It felt a lot like President  Monson's story from last conference.  The time for action had come and the time for preparation was over.  It wasn't a matter of whether I could or could not teach the lesson.  I had to.  I was grateful for the opportunity to push myself.

  A few less important things:  First Thanksgiving.  We had our Thanksgiving meal before your Thanksgiving day even started, making stakon (that's beef cut like bacon) and eggs and peach crisp with ice cream, and juice. Delicious!.  Then we started the day with some English teaching.  (I've started bringing that little red ball for more class participation.  .  .  works gangbusters)  Anyway Thanksgiving night Brother Ganbold had his baptismal interview with the district leader Elder Wilson.  His companion still needed to teach English so I got paired up with him to do that.  His English sponsor is a family who is .  .  .  well to be frank, loaded.  Moral of the story, they took us to the nicest hotel in Mongolia and fed us Japanese food until it hurt.

  Today we went out into the ger district to help haul water and then attended a wedding reception with the President.  Unfortunately there was no power at the building so everyone was sitting around eating food in the dark.

For everyone's information, my new winter coat is just a huge coat that makes me look like a marshmallow. I'll send some pictures later.

  As I read in the New Testament this week I finished the Gospels this morning.  In the end of John it references the peer pressure that Pontious Pilot encountered.  I thought about his situation and President Monson's talk "Dare to stand alone."  It is imperative to cement where our loyalties lie before we encounter such situations.

Have a great week
Elder Neuberger

Sunday, November 20, 2011

English; It's harder than you think

Happy Thanksgiving!

This week I’m sporting a fresh new haircut compliments of Elder Wilson who cut it last week before I met back up with Elder Jolley.  Pretty much as short as it can be while still being mission legal.  It definitely makes a hat necessarily as we walk along the now ice covered streets of UB.  Pack your ice skates.

Our power days now have become Saturday and Sunday as these are the only two days which we don’t teach English.  We try to stack these days with at least five missionary lessons or so.  The English teaching makes planning the days a bit tricky, but we find time to stuff as many lessons with investigators as we can.

Alright teaching English:
First of all I love it!  I have five different classes that I teach for an hour and a half every week. One of them I teach twice.  All of the classes are very basic entry level English.  Some of the grammar is there, but the comprehension and speaking is yet to be developed.  The other teacher who teaches at the school is a Mongolian journalist and she has never really studied English so that complicates things a bit.  But she’s very nice and tries her best to teach the students to the best of her knowledge.  

Because this week was zone conference Elder Jolley did not accompany me to any of my English teaching this week.  On Wednesday I teach one class at 1:50.  I was paired up with a priest age church member while Elder Jolley sat in on one of the zone conferences.  We hopped on a bus that I prayed was correct and rode the bus for a while.  By nothing short of a miracle we got off at the right stop and somehow found the school which is about a mile from the bus stop through some back alleys and small roads.

I begin teaching the students with a get to know you sheet and some introduction worksheets. Then later we moved to telling time and saying dates.  During the exercise I asked the students "What time does this class end?"  (At this point I had been there an hour and twenty minutes and figured we were almost done).  It was 2:20 and the students all said 3:30.  I asked five times and for some reason I trusted their English.  So panicking that I still had an hour left to fill I began making up other exercises with prepositions and such.  About a half-hour after that the church member I was with came up and told me we needed to go.  I told him we have a half hour left.
No class ended a half-hour ago.
And then when I asked the students again they confirmed that I sure enough had taught 30 minutes past class time.  Apparently when they said 3:30 they meant 2:30.  No one had said anything for a half hour about class being over.  Diligent students.

I taught the next day with Elder Boyd as my companion again finding the building miraculously.
Most of my classes have 15 to 30 students, varying in all levels.  The hardest problem is that there is no syllabus or course outline so I’m pretty much making this up as I go.  Fortunately, the students are really eager to learn and I have some background knowledge in the English area.

Thursday night Elder Jolley and I took home our area’s whiteboard.  Its 3feet by 4 feet and has all of our investigators,  new members etc. names and phone numbers in bold letters.  I’m not sure there was anything stranger than two white 20 years olds walking down a fairly busy street holding a board full of mongolian names and phone numbers.  I was laughing the entire time. And Elder Jolley fell on the ice at one point which only compounded the hilarity.

Right now we have 8 investigators with baptismal dates which is amazing and almost all of them came to church on Sunday.  On top off that Gonbold who is pure gold stood up and bore his testimony during Gospel Doctrine class. WOW!.  He and his family live in a small two room house very near our apartment.  They are amazing.  He is in between jobs and trying to sell his house.  When he saw the changes that his friend has made in becoming a church member he wanted those changes in his own life.  His baptism is set for this Friday. 

This week at zone conference President retold the story from President Monson about the city in the Toronto mission where no one wanted to serve.  Kingston.  So they pulled all of the missionares out.  They later told them about Brigham Young baptizing 45 people in 30 days. When President reopened the "golden city" everyone wanted to serve there.  He assigned two brand new missionaries.  It became the most baptizing city in Canada.

Afterword President told us we were all being transferred.  And then area by area “reassigned” us to the golden city of where we had been serving. It’s all about perspective.  If you limit yourself, if you don’t set goals that make you stretch and work has hard as you can, you won’t accomplish nearly as much as you can.  I realized this week through English teaching that there will always be an excuse to why you can’t work as hard as you might.  I could be better, smarter, more effective if .   .   .   But you can be better smarter, and more effective if you put your head down, take you medicine and go to work.  Make the best of whatever situation you've been allotted and realize the blessings in your life every day. Here lies true happiness.

Have a fantastic holiday weekend and safe travels where ever you’re headed!

Love Elder Neuberger 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Yeah, that's cold!

A quick note from the "editor."  Travis' companion also has a blog.  You might be interested in checking it out.  If you scroll through the entries, Elder Jolley has included lots of photos during his time in Mongolia.

Hey Everybody,

This week started with the first snow I’ve seen in Mongolia.  We woke up to an inch and half, but it was enough to coat the ground, clean the air and make it feel like winter.
During District meeting we got a surprise call from who else but my sponsor.  So we immediately left and headed to the immigration office near the airport.  It ended up taking about 4 hours to take pictures and do paperwork in which time Elder Jolley worked on converting my sponsor (lol).  We spent some time working out my schedule which was pretty intense.  I just sat there while Elder Jolley wheeled and dealed with the owner of the school.  I’m teaching English at a nanotechnolgy and accounting college.  We were able to get me down to 10 hours a week but only spanning three days which is nice because a lot of elders are teaching everyday at their sponsors.  The school is really nice and the people are really friendly. I just need to brush up on my nanotechnology.... Just kidding.  I’ll be teaching them beginner level English as a part of their curriculum.  The classes are about an hour and a half a piece so it shouldn’t be too bad.  I’m kind of of nervous but mostly excited to teach.  I’m fortunate to work at a location where I will be able to track my progress with students and my teaching.  Other elders are teaching at hotels or classes where the same people don’t even show up every day.  Should be a lot of fun! I start this Wednesday and teach Thursdays and Fridays also.  Mostly in the mornings.

Before I forget HAPPY BIRTHDAY KYLE and KEVIN! I hope you're having  a blast at school and all you’re doing.

On Wednesday we had some amazing ITL's (invitations to learn) . Twice in a cab we had two people who when the conversation turned to work we told them we were missionaries and they took interest.  In one cab we were able to give the driver a Book of Mormon.  Later that day when we were in the grocery store a man stopped us and told us that he had felt impressed to talk to us.  He asked us what we were doing in Mongolia and expressed confusion in what to believe and not believe in the world today.  Hopefully we will be meeting with him this week.

While Elder Jolley taught English in his hotel this week I had the privilege of occupying my time with three drunks.  It was actually really sad. They had no idea what was going on.  It made me realize how lucky I am to have the gospel in my life.  And gave me greater desire to see everyone as God’s children, even when it’s hard.

I spent this weekend with Elder Quinton and Elder Wilson because Elder Jolley went up to Darkhan with the President.  It was fun because I got to see a completely different area of the city.  Their area is the only area without a ger (yurt) district which was different.  It’s apparently the New York of UB.  It was insanely nice. Little plazas and parks everywhere.   TREES and really nice buildings.

I have no idea how cold it is, but it feels pretty cold.  I’m still just rocking the suit jacket and the Columbia omniheat rainjacket which has been convincingly warm.  But it’s probably time to upgrade.  If Elder Jolley gets back early enough today hopefully we will head over to the zax and grab some winter jackets.
Yesterday was Elder Titensor’s birthday and we made about 100 khoosher  which is basically fried bread stuffed with meat.  We also made something that resembled a cake.  It looked less than remarkable, but tasted fantastic!

The layer of snow has turned to ice and has created an extreme challenge to stay on your feet throughout the day.  Elder Quinton ate it twice on a side walk and I bit it the first day after the snow.  If  I had some ice skates I’d be flying to appointments.

And I almost forgot about the “Its a small world” moment of the week.  This week in Elder Quinton’s area’s church meetings there was an American who is here on business.  We got to talking and I learned that he served his mission in New Jersey right outside the city.  
“Oh really, thats where my grandparents are from.”
“Who are your grandparents?”
“The Englishs”
Turns out he spent 6 month in their ward and knew grandma and grandpa pretty well.  He spent ten minutes raving about how great grandma and grandpa are.  They are great.  Grandpa would always give them rides to appointments and teach with them.
Elder Jared Armstrong late 1990's.

This week I was reading in John 4 during personal study I want to say around verse 11 or 12.  It relates to reaping and sowing in different locations.  I’ve seen this in the first few days of my mission especially.  The first couple of weeks I’ve been handed so many great investigators that I wasn’t involved in finding.  And have had the opportunity to reap where someone else has sown. This week we had the opportunity to plant seeds that sometime down the road someone will be able to reap.  President talked this week about worrying less about our areas and more about investigators.  Right now we have more investigators than we can handle.  As long as you are involved there will always opportunities to reap and sow right where you are.  It doesn’t matter if you’re not a part of the entire maturing process because it’s not about you it’s about the investigator or the new member or the less active member.  Just remember we’re all in the same garden!

Be safe! Stay warm!


Elder Neuberger
                                             View out of our apartment window
                                  Our study area in front of the windows

Monday, November 7, 2011

Air Quality?

Another great week!

Answering a few questions:

1. Letters sent to me by the “pouch” take around 2 weeks.

2. When Elder Jolley has office work I try to help out the best I can and then I get some great study time in along with talking to everyone that works in the office.  It’s the best language study.

3. I have not started teaching English.  Everyone else is teaching 10 plus hours.  It’s great.  Elder Jolley only teaches 4 hours a week so we have more time to meet with investigators.  And it still seems like there is not enough time.  We have about ten investigators we are teaching and thirty more with whom we haven’t met, but that come to church every week.  It is amazing.  It’s all we can do to contact them all.  People come in all the time and want to know more about the church. So finding investigators is not a problem even though we can’t wear our nametags outside which is a bummer.

4. Our ward meets in the big church building on Tokyo Street.  The same building as the mission home and the mission office and basically everything mission related.  We have the biggest ward as I understand and we pack the house.

5. I haven’t purchased my “Mongolian” coat yet.  It’s really not that cold.  And I’m still wearing my everyday church shoes instead of the boots.

6. Elder Jolley is from Highland, UT.

7. Yes, we have prepared some insane meals in the apartment.  We usually eat just once a day so we go big when we go home.  We had pounds of French toast yesterday. Elder Jolley has all sorts of recipes and has amassed a large amount of spices.  A lot of fun!

This week we met with a sooo many amazing people.  We are teaching one family who read 200 pages of the Book of Mormon before we met with them for the first time. Another man was reading over Elder Jolley’s shoulder in the barber shop and became interested.  The faith of the people here is off the charts.  They are so receptive to the gospel message.

This Sunday we went 30 minutes outside the city to Nalak (no clue how to write that in English) Elder Jolley was translating for the President and we enjoyed Fast and Testimony meeting there. I just love shaking hands at this point.  Everyone is ridiculously friendly and complimentary of our Mongolian. I’ve been so lucky to meet so many people as companion to the AP.

This week we taught a few lessons with a member in our ger (yurt) district.  We taught with a returned missionary who had been companions with one of our MTC teachers. His name is Gathmandox.  Because we had heard so much about him it was like meeting a movie star.  We went to visit the same investigator the next night without the luxury of a member’s vehicle and I have never felt so dependent on anyone in my life. I’m not sure how Elder Jolley has any idea where we are going.  We got off the bus and walked for a while and then turned and then turned. It was pitch black, and he got us there with no backtracking.  Insane!  I was totally lost.  Then afterwards we forded a stream, climbed some dirt hills and we were back to the "main" road. Crazy!

Well....Mongolia is amazing and the people are even better and I’m loving every minute of it! The Church is true and my testimony grows every day.

I love you all!

Elder Neuberger