Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Because I Skyped with my family for Christmas, email time is a bit scarce.
It's been a wonderful Christmas here in Mongolia.  Yesterday we were part of Christmas programs for two different wards, our own and another.  Elder Jolley and I joined a six man choir for the program.  Later, after a fantastic meal of marinated steak we headed to the stake choir concert.  Amazing!!!  They sang Christmas songs for almost an hour including the hallelujah chorus and President Clark sang "Oh, Holy Night."  He was phenomenal!  This morning we got up at 6 to get everything ready for the "English Speaking Missionary Skype Fest." lol.  Its been a wonderful week.  See a few pics below.

Have a wonderful New Year!!!
Elder Neuberger

Editor's note:  The Skype call was fantastic.  Travis looked great and sounded better.  We got several lingering questions answered and got caught up on all that we could.  We even had a thirty second conversation with our second favorite missionary in Mongolia, Elder Jolley.

Children are bundled up in so many layers that they can barely walk.

President Clark singing at the Christmas choir concert

We went caroling in our ger district with all the missionaries from our district.

Here's a close up of the district out caroling.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Hello again!

What a wonderful time of the year to be a missionary!
So this week .  .  . (Editor's note: click on any of the photos to enlarge them)

With the Fords
After district meeting we went to the Fords' house (the senior couple who works in the office, wonderful people) for lunch where they served the most delicious enchiladas that I have ever tasted.  Seriously amazing!  Better were the spiritual thoughts shared after the meal.  Elder and Sister Ford will be leaving on the 1st of March and it will be a great loss to the mission.  Elder Ford pleaded with us never to forget the feelings we experience on a mission.  It's so easy to live another day and forget the moments that have strengthened our faith.  We need to continuously look back and see the hand of the Lord working in our lives.  He told us to remember that the adversary doesn't prey on the weak but on the strong in heart. Sister Ford shared a wonderful testimony and you could feel their love for missionary work and the country of Mongolia.
At English class
Later that night after hours of English teaching I realized that our English teaching is somewhat like tracting. There are many stories of missionaries who have spent the entire day tracting.  Turned away at countless doors, to find one person, at the end of the day to make the entire day worth it.  Many days we teach English (which I love, but not as  much as missionary work) and after many hours we have one appointment at the end of the day.  A beautiful lesson that makes all our efforts worth it.  We had such an opportunity on Tuesday night as we met with an investigator and shared the message of the restoration.

For staff meeting on Wednesday (this is where all the senior couples meet with the presidency) we began with a tutorial of car maintenance.  So we all trundle outside for the lesson.  This wouldn't have been that great except for the tutorial was done by Batbold.  The funniest Mongolian ever!  He's in the presidency and speaks OK English.  So all the senior couples are freezing and he's out there with no gloves on describing in vivid detail how to use the jack and change a tire and everything you could need to know.  Elder Jolley and I were laughing the entire time. Its hard to portray how funny the situation was.
Anyway, we finally met with the couple from Canada on Wednesday night.  I think I already told you some about them.  The sister is a less active member and her boyfriend has never had interest in religion.  She found the church one night and wanted to start coming again.  They are actually here teaching English which was a cool talking point along with the fact that we were speaking in English.  We started out trying to address their needs and figure out where they were spiritually.  Initially we figured we would teach the restoration.  However when we asked about his belief in God it led him to ask the question, "If there is a God, does he even have a plan?  What is the plan?" .  .  . Great question! We just might have an answer for that.  We immediately jumped into the plan of salvation and taught how we indeed lived with God before coming to this earth (Jeremiah 1:3).  How this life is a time to prepare to meet God and to have joy. And how we can, through the atonement of the Savior, return to live to our Father in Heaven again.  It was fun to share and discuss scriptures in English.  When I had the privilege to share my testimony at the end, the spirit confirmed once again to me what a magnificent plan this is. With blessings that can be seen in both this life and the next.

Making khooshoor with Nymsureh and Purev
Skipping to Friday
We met with our wonderful investigators, Nymsureh and Purev, who are going to be baptized this week.  I'm so excited for them and it has been amazing to see their faith in the gospel blossom over the last month.

We went to our new member Ganbold's house and continued to teach his son and wife who have commited to a January baptismal date.  His wife just had a baby boy.  We came and shared a message and had the oppurtunity to give a blessing to the baby who weighed just over 5 pounds.  And side note: they made some delicious food.

Quickly Sunday
Elders Jolley and Migmardorj went to Baganoor and Elder Boyd and I attended our ward here in Sansar.  I got to sit by three different investigators in all three of the meetings and afterward taught two lessons with Elder Boyd. 

Well, the time is far spent
Have a wonderful Christmas. I know I will here with the wonderful people of Mongolia.  I love it here! 
Be safe and have fun and never forget the real reason we celebrate this holiday and the greatest gift we can give this holiday season: The message that our Heavenly Father loves us.  I know he does.  Each one.
I love you too!

Elder Neuberger
Sunrise just outside of town
Statue at a traffic circle
The meat section of the Zak market

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Greatest Message in the Greatest Place

Hello everyone!
The time continues to fly by as preparation day has once again come and gone.

What a wonderful week in Mongolia!

A reoccurring theme in so many of our lessons this week was the fact that the blessings of the gospel are for this life as well as the life to come.  While it is true that many of the blessings, and surely the greatest blessing, of the gospel are reserved for the life after, our lives on earth can be indisputably better as we follow the example and the teachings of the Savior.  We taught  three less active members this principle this week.  Explaining that as we attend church and follow the counsels of modern day prophets we find greater meaning and purpose in our lives.  Our families are strengthened and our lives are just plain happier!

As I begin to understand Mongolian a little better each day I realize more and more how good of a teacher Elder Jolley is.  The ability as a missionary to learn from someone who has experienced so much creates a perpetuation of learning beyond what any other program could instill.  Its amazing to think that Elder Jolley and I only have five weeks left together.  It's been such an amazing experience to work with him.
Because we didn't have a baptism this week, on Friday we went to another building and Elder Jolley translated for the President.  The Elders there had 6 new members baptized, 5 from one companionship.  It was a white field experience for sure.  Making it sweeter was the fact that two of my English students were there!  One has been a member and the other was less active.  I sat with the less active member and he stayed for the rather lengthy hour and a half baptism.  It's neat to see my English teaching allowing for missionary work even if it is in just this small way.  I translated some hymns into English and talked to him about his conversion 6 years ago.

(as I write this the funniest little Mongolian boy is trying to talk to me and I haven't the slightest what he's saying,  but he did just give me candy lol)

Okay anyway, this brings us to the greatest day ever. Yesterday (Sunday to clarify the time difference lol)  we woke up and left early, around 7am for the church where we met with the President and his wife.  It was the foggiest/smokiest morning yet. and you couldn't see more them thirty yards in front of you.  We headed for Zuuhkharaa (about three hours away by car)  As we drove the sun rose and we finally broke free of the smoke of the city into the crystal clear country side air.  Vast snow filled valleys and rolling mountains.  Actual trees and the random ger on the hillside.  But that wasn't even the best part.  Not even close.  The best part was spending three hours with the mission president his wife and his right hand missionary listening to talks and discussing gospel topics.  It was amazing to realize what a remarkable and rare opportunity it was to be with all three of them.  To make it exciting we got a bit lost on the way to the church building.  Luckily there wasn't much to get lost in.  A small country town tucked in the mountains.  It was soooo beautiful.  All 30 of the members were there to great us as we pulled in (the only car in the parking lot).  Everyone wanted to talk and was so excited just to be at church.  It was amazing to see their faith in church attendance including a few 80+ year old grandmas and grandpas who walked a least a few miles to make it to church.  The sacrament meeting was so peaceful as half the ward got up to sing an intermediate hymn.  The most fun of the day came when I attended my first Young Women's meeting with Sister Clark as her translator. I was more of her general idea translator I would have to say.  Needless to say it was a humbling experience.  I struggled with the Mongolian to English, but when they asked Sister Clark to bear her testimony at the end of the meeting I was able to translate every word after a quick prayer for help.  We said good bye to everyone and made our way back to the city with more amazing spiritual discussion.  After the spiritual feasting of the day I felt like I was floating the rest of the evening.  I'm so grateful for the amazing opportunities given from a loving Heavenly Father as a missionary here in Mongolia.  As I carry my leg of the marathon, my turn with the baton (which comes in the form of a name tag) I look forward to every day.  I love Mongolia! I love the people! I love the Gospel!

Be safe and have a wonderful week!

Elder Neuberger

PS Someone tell John Olson that his letters are amazing and funny and awesome!!!!!!!