Monday, July 30, 2012

Happy Olympics

Unfortunately our hot water has been out all week which has made for the need for some extra hard workouts to counteract the glacier that flows from the faucet. Hysterically cold water!  Our other loss this week was our refrigerator which has knocked down the variety in our meals.  However, this was quickly remedied by my sponsor giving us 8 cans of peas, 16 boxes of spaghetti noodles and 5 lbs (I kid you not) of honey. I was extremely close to laughing as we packed it up. We haven’t tried them all together (I’m not sure if that was the intention), but individually they've been delicious.

As the number of people we know in the area and in the ward has grown I have become increasingly aware of the absolute necessity for using the inspired forms and techniques found in chapter 8 of Preach My Gospel. Without the organization of names, numbers, and notes in folders, planners, and phones it would be a nightmare to keep track of everyone and even the best effort wouldn't be enough to keep some from falling through the cracks. There is a certain confidence that comes from organizing information and keeping track of details.

This week we continued to work with investigators and were able to have three come to church on Sunday including a friend of a new member who says she has been searching for something more for her family for awhile. I think the greatest joys in missionary work come when we invest our lives in the lives of our investigators. When we know where they are from, where they want to go and what they are doing. In this transfer I’ve learned the importance of building relationships with investigators that allow the spirit of understanding to flow more freely during our lessons. As I hear and think about each person’s personal situation it fills me with an increased love and understanding for them. And at times a certain glimpse at what our Father in Heaven must feel.

This Wednesday became a microcosm of missionary work in Mongolia. We started with normal study in the morning and our weekly planning session before heading off to Elder Robbins’ English teaching. Once we finished up there we headed out to Narangin gol (a part of our area to check on some addresses.  When we arrived at one address we found a grandma, Delger egch, who had been meeting with the sister missionaries who were in this area before us and so she had heard the first few lessons.  In preface, there are people in Mongolia that no matter how you speak, refuse to understand a word you say because they don’t believe you can speak at all (Elder Jolley and Wilson are hopefully nodding right now).  As we began to teach it was apparent that she couldn’t remember anything that the sisters had been teaching.  She was probably only picking up about 50% of what was being said at all.  We began to get frustrated and did what we could to help her understand what makes our church any different. Despite our attempts her interest level just wasn’t there.  I left the house frustrated with myself that I couldn’t do a better job. As we continued down the road we found the house of a new member that we have been trying to meet with for three weeks. They were again not there. Legitimately deterred for the first time in a while we pressed on.  Finally, we came to the house of a young investigator,  Javkhaa, who had been in the countryside for the last month and it was great to finally make contact with her.  Although we weren’t able to meet with her because her parents don't allow the gospel discussions to be taught in their home, she told us how she had been reading daily form the scriptures and praying.  It came as needed relief. Next we found another investigator, a single mother, Uugii who lived in Germany for the last 11 years or so. She is without a doubt the wittiest, quickest Mongolian I’ve ever met. We talked to her in her yard, sitting in the sand box while her child played for a 1/2 hour.  Before we could get to our scriptures, her slightly inebriated neighbor made his way over to talk to us.  That led to a 45 minute discussion with him where he praised our missionary efforts but told us he couldn't believe in God. Although after the time was over it was clear that he wasn’t going to be swayed by anything but the beer he had, it was a testimony builder for me as I defended to the best of my ability the greatest truth I know.  To close the day we rushed to the house of a new member, Munhkbaatar, who is struggling to keep his testimony alive. To our pleasure he had read from the Book of Mormon and prayed telling us that he had felt in small part the feelings he had felt before baptism.  While he inst completely back I could feel his determination to know for himself which is the greatest start.  We had to run a little bit to get home on time, but at the end of the day I felt an overwhelming gratitude to my Father in Heaven for the blessings and most importantly the trials and the struggles of the day.

The Savior lives. He has fulfilled a perfect plan set in place by a loving Father in Heaven. While not everything that occurs day to day seems to go according to His will because of because of the agency he has given to each person, know that there is no experience from which we can’t learn something for good. I think the biggest thing I’ve learned in this first year is to look for the learning opportunity in every experience. That no matter where we are, we can learn from anyone in any circumstance. There is unlimited room for improvement and how great is that!

Have a great week!

Go team Mongolia (every sport that has some relation to fighting)
Go team USA (.....every sport)

Elder Neuberger

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