Monday, August 27, 2012

But It's Your Floor

Well it seemed like a busy week for everyone back home as everyone finished up the summer and got back to school. We're hoping that the same things starts going on here and we see just a few more people at church on Sundays. 

Thanks for the great pictures from your trip to BYU with Kristi Lee and I can’t believe that anything is that green  .  .  .  it was blinding. 

Elder Ocorjamaa upon learning that Travis was his trainer.
This week was a little slower than last week as we struggled to keep our investigators in the growing and progressing category.  Despite the struggle we were blessed with 6 new investigators who the Lord has placed in our path in one way or another.  Four of them are relatives of church members (always a bonus) and we'll be headed over to meet with one for family home evening tonight.

So I moved and rebuilt my first ger this week. It’s like putting up a really intricate tent.  Everything gets broken down and fit into a small flat bed (the height of the stacked items exceeding all safety standards).  The best part of the experience was setting up the floor which is a series of wooden pieces not unlike a giant circular puzzle.  Unfortunately, we forgot to draw/take a picture of the floor before taking it down creating a bit of a problem when setting it back up.  It was like an awesome team building game from scout camp as we all stood around and tried to figure out how to make a circle from the pieces we had.  Due to my lack of ger making experience my ideas were not highly regarded nor were my companion’s, so we just helped move the boards around.  The rest of the experience was a blast and I’m not sure what the levels of experience are, but I feel like I moved up a few points in the ger building category.
Elders Ocojamaa and Neuberger with Pres. and Sis. Clark

This week I also got in my second bus accident, the car we crashed with had no driver (someone remind me to tell this one later).

This week I read a fantastic excerpt from the September Ensign by President Packer.  It was the story of two farmers who lived side by side and grew the same type of wheat.  One of the farmers decided not to work on Sundays to keep the Sabbath day holy.  The farmer who did worked on Sundays asked the other why he didn’t work and he told him that his crops wouldn’t turn out as well come October.  But the friend responded that he wished to receive the blessings of the Lord through keeping his commandments. Time passed and it came time to harvest.  One day the two farmers talked over the fence.  The farmer who worked on Sunday looked at his neighbor’s crops and asked, “where are the blessings that you were trying to receive.  There is no question that my crops are better looking and more abundant than yours.” The neighbor paused, thought for a minute and then responded smiling, “The Lord doesn't balance his books in October!” Wherever we are and no matter how little the blessings seem for following any of the Lord’s commandments, realize that the blessings may not come in October this year or even in this lifetime.  But the promises and the blessings of the Lord are always certain if not swift.  Do what’s right.  Be obedient. Reap the rewards when the Lord says the harvest is up.

Have a great week
Elder Neuberger

Editor's Note: Please note the addition of a new blog in the links in the right margin.  Elder Farmer is serving in Mongolia with his wife.  They arrived last month.  Coincidentally they are also from St. Louis.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Dog Days of . . . Fall?

So apparently its been fall for the last month and a half...not sure how we count it here.
Either way it definitely feels like fall today as the temperatures dropped into the thirties yesterday at night. I’m imagining a nice St. Louis August day, but can’t say I’d trade at the moment.  But talk to me again in two months.

In other news Elder Osorjamaa  and I are off to a fantastic start together in Songino. We are putting up some legendary numbers in the key indicator column of the weekly report.  It was new records for the Songino area  almost across the board.  One reason is because of the relief of half a English schedule (we only have to take time for my English teaching since Elder Osorjamaa doesn’t have to teach) and the other being tremendous blessings all week.

At Nadaam Picnic last month
First to the fantastic returned missionaries in the ward, who's only difference between now and a few months ago is the absences of a badge.  If there is a referral that every missionary would prefer it’s a friend of  a returned missionary. We continued to meet with Amaraa the friend of RM Zulbayar who returned from the Washington DC south mission a month ago.  For the lessons we taught, there were actually three returned missionaries which at first was as intimidating as it was comforting.  The testimonies born by the three friends were 10 times as powerful as anything that Elder Osorjamaa and I could have ever said.  We saw firsthand the blessings of making missionary work a team effort.

My companion is big into learning English, so it’s been a  blast learning the languages together and learning great new stuff every day.  Because he’s asking as many questions about my language as I am about his, it just pushes me to learn more and faster.  Did I tell you how great he is?  The "let’s go and do it" attitude to match anyone, but the humility and “laid backness” to understand and not get disappointed.  Also a bit sarcastic .  .  .  I love a little witty banter.
Please leave your ideas for a caption in the comment section.

On Saturday we had the most successful day of missionary work ever heard of.  Everyone we wanted to talk to/meet with/see seemed to be home and ready to go and then some. On some days you get burned so many times you end up with a little bit of time at the end of the day that’s unplanned.  On Saturday we completed so many appointments as planned that we had extra time at the end of the day  (I’m not even sure how the math works on that one).
The best visit of the day was without a doubt our meeting with Baatar Ax, a recent convert of 7 or so months that just got back from the countryside.  The man is always in a suit and reminds me a bit of Grandpa English.  He also wears this sweet sailor hat all the time.  Coolest of all he has a Prayer Ger.  Which is this really tiny ger next to his real ger where he reads scriptures and prays.  The man goes like clockwork and before we sat down he already had decided who was saying the opening and closing prayer.  He shared with us the most amazing story of faith.  On his way home from Khovd he was riding a bus that tried, but failed to cross a stream or pond.  On the way across it got stuck and the passengers were fine but everything under the bus would be assuredly ruined.  Because of the great amount of things he had under the bus of not just material but sentimental value, he was worried for his things.  In his moment of panic he though first to turn to the Lord.  He prayed hard he said for the time that it took a tow truck to come and pull them out.  When all was said and done, although the outside of all of his things were soaked and the cardboard boxes ruined, he didn’t lose a thing on the inside the of the packages.  May we all have faith as this man as we go about our week.  Find the small miracles that are in every moment.

You're the Best!

Elder Neuberger
With Elder Robbins last transfer

Monday, August 13, 2012

If I Had a Nickel for Every Ocorjamaa I Knew

What a busy week...
First of all the greatest part of becoming a trainer is the bonus interview with the mission president.  Is there a kinder, more caring, more involved and interested person?  We talked for about 20 minutes, but I’m pretty sure that’s enough to make anyone happy for at least 2 transfers!  I’ve got to admit that when I learned I was training a Mongolian I was just a bit nervous.  The language obviously isn’t a problem for him,  so I wasn’t even sure what I was going to teach him.

The week unfolded like this:  Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday were as normal with Elder Robbins and I rocking a great couple last days together.  Then on Thursday morning I met with the President.  Because everyone had to interview, we weren’t done until four o’clock which left us three hours till the big training meeting with the President and since it’s a two hour transit to get home and back .  .  .  Not doing that.  So we went with Elder Boyd and Elder Quinton to do some service in Khailaast for a less active member.  We pulled weeds for an hour, got our hands sufficiently green, and laughed with the sisters and the member.  Then it was back to the Bayanzurk (that’s the main church building) for training.  In short, that was an hour and a half of pure inspiration as the President outlined our duties as trainers.  What struck me the most was his admonition to "not train alone" 
A major part of being a missionary is realizing that I’ve got nothing on my own.  No language skills, no teaching skills and most of all no purpose in Mongolia.  With the challenges come the realization that in order to succeed in any degree we are going to need a whole lot of help.  Sometimes its intimidating and frustrating to face obstacles where so much seems unknown or the chips even seem stacked against you. It’s amazing to look back at almost every problem in life no matter how big or small it seemed and realized that the Lord has provided a way.

So who is this new Elder that I’m training?
Elder Ocorjamaa is the greatest 5 foot missionary out of Enktaivan ever.  He’s full of energy and spiritual knowledge, but humble and ready to learn. He finished high school last year and spent the last year working to make enough money to serve a mission.  He turned 19 in May making him the youngest missionary in the mission.  He is one of two church members in his family having been baptized just 4 years ago with his sister.  It’s been just so fun to be with a Mongolian again I can’t even tell you.  Nothing on Elder Robbins, but being able to ask anything about the language again is great.  This weekend has been especially great because Elder Anar (who also started his mission this week) was with us.  He’s a member from Khailaasst you may remember if you’re an avid blog follower.  We have had a great weekend working through the training and just being together.

Time for basketball .  .  .
Have a great week!
Elder Neuberger

Monday, August 6, 2012

One down, one to go

It is truly amazing how the Olympics bring the world together.  Ugaasa. It’s huge in America, but witnessing it from the other side of the world is something else.  It’s amazing to see every Mongolian in the country get revved up for the participants they're sending.  From what I hear Mongolia has won a silver and a bronze, but there’s some upper weight class, open wrestling guy who’s supposed to be lights out. Also how great is the Olympics for small talk conversation starters.  Everyone’s got their two cents.

So the sad news this week is that I’ll be saying goodbye to Elder Robbins this week as he heads to Khailaast with Elder Quinton.  It'll be tough to part after we had such a short time together, but we've had a great 5 weeks or so. 

Who's my new companion .  .  . well, he's coming from the Philippines. That’s where the MTC is for Mongolian Elders.  Although I don’t know quite exactly who I’ll be training, I know pretty much everyone in the group coming in and they are all fantastic guys who will make superb Elders.  That all happens on Friday. Elder Boyd will also be training a new Mongolia and Elders Stranski and Lloyd will remain the zone leaders for the city.  I’m looking forward to two months with whomever I’m with.  It’s great serving with another American, but what an opportunity of a life time to live with someone from halfway around the world. Plus it never hurt anyone’s language skills to work with a Mongolian.

As for this week .  .  . the non spiritual highlight goes to being fed five days in a row. First by a returned missionary who served in Australia, then the Farmers who are actually from my home stake in St. Louis [find their blog ( and there should be a picture], then by Elder Robbins' sponsor, next by my sponsor, and finally by a church member (first time I’ve had broccoli in almost a year. Wow! is that stuff is underrated).

I feel like I neglected telling you anything about Elder Robbins who is from California, was at BYU the same time I was, likes the outdoors and weight lifting. He’s a fantastic missionary with great spiritual insights, huge into healthy eating, and not immune (reference last week’s email) to the difficulties of cultural eating adaption.  His one flaw would be not being a sports fan, but what can ya do?

This week I’ve seen the Lord place people in our path on several occasions whether for their good or ours.  The spontaneous meeting of people interested in the Church has resulted in receiving quite a few great referrals and even better gospel conversations. One was my first ever Bible Basher in Mongolia. Another was after a long day of English teaching while we were eating yogurt and super kontics (best combo ever) we were approached by a young girl probably about our age. She introduced herself as Munktenger and told us that she had been a member of the Church about a year ago. Not passing up a good opportunity we began to discuss what had brought her to leave the Church.  She told us that she had always had great faith in the Bible and it had been a wonderful source of truth for her. Although she felt she had received a testimony of the Book of Mormon, under the pressure of her friends and family she had slowly drifted and stopped coming to church. She wasn’t sure if what the Church taught was true anymore. One of her comments had striking similarity to the Father of King Lamoni in the Book of Mormon. She said "if I knew it was true, if I absolutely knew, I’d give up everything, my family, my school  .  .  . I would put everything I know in correspondence to my faith."  She continued to ask questions that bothered her like the last verses of Revalations and why the Sabbath was moved to Sunday instead of Saturday. We answered slowly and simply the best we could to all the questions she posed.  Ingrained in my mind were the words out of Preach My Gospel that that at the root of all doubt and disbelief is a lack of understanding or a lack of testimony in the Book of Mormon.  As we continued to calmly answer questions we made it clear that there was no possibility, even if we answered every question, to prove to her that what we were saying was true.  The truth of the Gospel and a testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon comes only through personal study,  pondering and asking God our Heavenly Father for ourselves if the words in the book are true. While the doctrine may seem demanding or confusing at times, the answer for a personal testimony in any facet of the Gospel comes though the instruction given in the last two paragraphs in the introduction of the Book of Mormon 

“We invite all men everywhere to read the Book of Mormon, to ponder in their hearts the message it contains, and then to ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ if the book is true. Those who pursue this course and ask in faith will gain a testimony of its truth and divinity by the power of the Holy Ghost. (See Moroni 10:3–5.)

Those who gain this divine witness from the Holy Spirit will also come to know by the same power that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, that Joseph Smith is his revelator and prophet in these last days, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s kingdom once again established on the earth, preparatory to the second coming of the Messiah.”

The best part of the Gospel is that you truly can know for yourself!

Have a fantastic week!
Enjoy the Olympics (Kevin and John, watch it twice for me)

Elder Neuberger