Monday, September 24, 2012

yu saikhan dur saikhan

Another great week in UB, cool mornings and warm days making ideal conditions for the weekly basketball.  It’s the kind of weather where it’s great when you’re playing, but a bit chilly when you’re not.  Azaar Elder Boyd and I paired up with a decently tall RM and ran the court for 6 or 7 straight games. Interrupted only slightly when a car had some problems (the guy didn’t know how to drive stick) pealed out and ran full out into the wall at like 30 miles an hour.  Everyone was OK. The car was not.  The scariest part was that I was standing in the line of fire until the last second, just getting out of the way. An hour later we were all watching the security tapes and it was super close. Truly missionaries are blessed physically and spiritually.

In other news I also met a Saudi Arabian in the supermarket, got kicked in the stomach by a drunk man and shared my testimony in English (those are three separate events).

Truly this week was super productive as we took on several new investigators and keep progressing with others.  Our biggest problem right now is just not enough time in the day to meet with everyone. Because of English instruction our remaining schedule is super tight. I’m also teaching a class on Saturdays at the church (free of charge. Tell your friends) because Elder Woodward moved over to Bayanzurkh over the transfer (Super low key transfer BTW). Anyway .  .  . we are counting our blessings because I’m sure some Elders over in Germany would take half our investigators in a heartbeat.

Tuesday was absolutely fantastic this week.  Even with our super late 2:30 district meeting we still got in three visits.  But the amazing part was that we invited all six people that were in the lessons to be baptized and went six for six.  Now it’s up to us to continue to meet with them, and up to them to have their own personal experiences to build a testimony and prepare for baptism.

Wednesday was a split with Elder Williams before the end of the transfer and was quite productive for English.  An all day English teaching event that ended up really cool when a student asked me if I liked America or Mongolia better.  I turned that into a 15 minute speech about how it doesn’t matter where you live and that the most important things are family and friends and that’s what’s going to draw you to love any place.  Not sure the student was expecting that lengthy of an answer, but what a fantastic experience.

Even though this transfer was small, on Friday night there was still no companion for Elder Williams who was supposed to pair up with a temporary missionary for the transfer.  By Saturday morning it was clear that nothing was going to get worked out before the end of the weekend, so he tagged along with me and my companion for Saturday and Sunday. He is easily the most humble, easiest going, nicest Elder in the mission. We had a great experience giving a blessing to a friend of a member who just got in a auto accident and broke her arm and we sat for 5 hours of two wards of church on Sunday.  Sidenote: Mom always said, “learn the piano so that you can play on your mission."  It’s true that basically no one plays the piano, but the high tech keyboards here allow you to just press a button.  The hardest thing to find is a chorister, and though I’m no Mr. Linn I stepped in on several occasions on Sunday. Everything else has been pretty quiet just doing the best we can. Looks to be another great week, although it really always does. I had some great scriptures to share but left those on a paper at the apartment.  Just read D&C 64.  It’s great!

Have a great week,
Elder Neuberger

Monday, September 17, 2012

Mission Conference Recharge

Greeting Elder Wilson
Well if you've never been a part of a mission conference I can assure you it’s probably one of the most motivating, re-energizing events anywhere.  Just bringing together all the missionaries from all over the country for a few days would be enough, but then combine that with almost 20 hours of fantastically prepared talks, ideas, discussions, practices, a member of the seventy in attendance, along with several stake leaders from here in town and the greatest mission president ever and you've got mission conference.
The highlights included a fantastic talk on study techniques by the stake president, the allegory of the Ger given by President Clark and  a personal interview with Elder Wilson after the conference which was of course a wonderful opportunity.

After Conference this week we got hit hard by English teaching where I taught an hour and a half discourse on the history of America to my sponsor.  I guess I owe some thanks to some great elementary school teachers and Mr. Reaganbogen from Parkway North.  I also took a minute to shoot the breeze with some of my classes and realized that as much as English instruction wouldn't be my first choice of how to spend my time, Jonon is definitely my first choice for where to teach.  Between Mission conference and Jonon the week flew by.  Feels like I was sitting here yesterday writing email.  We got in a few lessons right at the end of the week and although we have so many leads and our investigator boards are full, getting people moving in the gospel stream has presented itself as a challenge as of late.  Anyway this week’s letter will be primarily insights and ideas from conference and the ensuing personal and companionship studies.

From Elder Wilson-
Its impossible for anyone to go through a mission or life for that matter without experiencing highs and lows.  It’s simply a truism that some things we face will bring us happiness and others sorrow.  The strategy is not to make the only the “highs” higher because that just increases the depths of the lows.  We must strive to also raise the entire “graph” by making the highs and the lows higher.

From President Clark-
In John chapter six Jesus feeds the five thousand with what little food was present.  At first it was noted that after the miracle some wished to follow Jesus in order to be feed physically.  Those in this category soon fell away and no longer tarried with him.
Secondly, we may also find ourselves in similar positions where we feel we need to feed five thousand (be it a church calling or something else).  As we give of ourselves we find that after we have given all that we have, we like those in the story end up with more loaves and fishes (blessings) then we even started out with!  While those who serve only for themselves find themselves empty handed at the end of the day.  I’ve seen this the case in Mongolia as some will indeed join the church as some sort of welfare society.  They never seem to stay long.  Yet those who understand the law of the gospel and give of themselves freely (even when there isn’t much to give) receive in abundance both spiritually and physically.  Be a bucket filler not a taker.

Finally reading in the D&C this week in the sixth section:
36 Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.

As missionaries we tend to keep our thoughts centered on Christ and the gospel more than we did before or probably after we serve.  Out of necessity of life there are other things that must fill our thoughts at other times of the day.  The take home message is whether we can "Look unto God" in every thought that crosses our mind.  Is there anything that would cause us to lower our head for an instant if we were in his presence? Through keeping our thoughts clean we can look unto God and live.

I was struck this week at the end of Conference when Elder Wilson took a moment to almost individually thank everyone that had a hand in the conference.  And I recognized the love that can be conveyed and the joy that can be felt by the recipients of the thank you.
Though I can’t name you individually I am extremely grateful to all of you supporting me here in Mongolia where ever you are in the world.  Your thoughtful notes, emails, and letters are always filled with happiness and enthusiasm.

Love you all
Elder Neuberger

If you look closely, you can find Elder Neuberger in both of these photos.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Mission Conference Boloo

This Pday is filled with the hype of the next two days which should be great.  All of the Elders are in from the countryside (not that many people because the mission is down to like fifty missionaries) and Elder Wilson (a member of our area presidency) comes in tonight.  Mission conference is pretty much like general conference, but on a more one on one setting and it’s all day. My sponsor was also completely willing to give me Wednesday off so I won’t have to miss any of it! Plus Pday basketball when the whole mission is in town always amps up the gameplay.  Tried to get a soccer game together today, but that didn’t work out. 

Pretty much all of the American Elders left in Mongolia are teachers at schools so even though we all went back to school this week it was fun to all go back together as a team kind of.  Jonon has been great this week with my new teaching technique .  .  .  wing it.  My new class freaked out when they found out that I know Mongolian. Seeing all the other students was almost like seeing friends again and we just chatted about the summer for a while.  Plus three of the hours a week are just me, my sponsor, and his wife eating food and trying to learn/teach English.  What basically happens is my sponsor goes on for an hour about some really cool Mongolain  history or culture story (the first three words are in English and then he switches to Mongolian haha) and then the last 5 minutes he asks a few questions and we finish.  Can’t complain there.  The only downside is the deficit of study time. All the classes start so early we get no time in the morning to study.  We get out so late that there’s no reason to go back to the apartment. 

Thursday was fun as we went straight from English to digging a 10 foot bathroom hole.  We went with the other Elders in our district and it was a blast.  The Elders quorum president from their ward was there and he was laughing and talking the whole time.  We talked about pretty much everything for the 4 hours we dug.  On the way home I convinced my companion that the Air Force never lands its planes and only refuels by people throwing them fuel from the ground and a guy with a big glove leaning out the window and catching it (funnier in Mongolian bakhuu).

This week we added quite a number of people to the potential investigator list including a man who came to church with his wife seeking a way out of alcoholism.  I talked with him before the investigator class started and then he basically dominated the discussion during class which was taught by a fantastic RM who served in Washington DC.  They stayed all three hours and came back for some sort of fireside that we weren’t able to stay for.  Unfortunately we won’t be able to meet with them until after mission conference. 

This week we also met again with the brother of member tsetsegmaa (Elder Wilson’s convert).  She’s great because she talks as if she’s always angry.  It seemed like we were in and out of there before we knew it as she basically ran the meeting.  The family had run out of the pamphlets we had given them and could have taught the lessons themselves.  And at the end, tsetsegmaa who sells fruits at the zaakh sent us home with 10 bananas and apples. 
The next day at church the oldest son came and told us (as if it was nothing) that he had walked an hour and a half to get to church.  The mom and the dad unfortunately had work.  This is a constant problem in Mongolia because the concept of a weekend really doesn’t exist and  because there is no Christian background the Sabbath is of no consequence and always a problem for members and investigators alike.

I got to end this, but have a great week
Pray always,
Elder Neuberger

Sunday, September 2, 2012

JONON 2012

Well this week has been all over the place including first day of school with orientation.  I think this is the classiest I've ever looked for the first day of school (definitely outdid the nanotechnology students).  The whole thing was pretty fun because I knew pretty much everyone there from last year.  My sponsor introduced me to a new class. We talked a bit and that was it. I mentioned before that I’ve been teaching my sponsor over the summer.  Unfortunately, I must have taught him too well because in his excitement I’m teaching 13 and a 1/2 hours a week.  Which would be fine if I wasn’t trying to work 24/7 as a missionary.  Anyway it’s a small price to pay for being in the greatest mission in the world though I do feel a little bad for my companion who will finish his training with hours of sitting in English classes.  Talk about extra personal study time. 

All it really means is that with the remaining time we have to be absolutely lights out planned so that we don’t waste a minute of  time. 

While the English work picked up so did the missionary work.  We had five investigators at church and a great meeting with our new ward missionary leader.  The ward (not unlike those in America) has a completely new face as people are flowing in from the countryside for the beginning of school.  We've scheduled lessons with several members’ families and look forward to those this week.  My companion, still amazing, and I have really started clicking in lessons and the teaching has been great. 

This week we had an interesting experience with an investigator. It was with some of our baptismal candidates this week (the daughter and son of an ALA's sister). We had a meeting to close one of our days.  The ALA who has been coming back to church and has born his testimony several times in lessons was unfortunately a bit drunk and smoking as we entered the apartment.  As we all gathered in a small room you could feel that the Spirit of the Lord had no possibility to reside.  On his own the man decided it would be best if he left. Soon after we began the lesson (the Gospel of Jesus Christ).  The lesson started a bit slow, strained even.  Like someone starting to swing from a dead stop.  As we moved forward it gradually picked up speed until the dim room was filled with not a tangible light, but the light, warmth and peace of the gospel.  It highlighted something Brother Margetts said in the MTC.  If none of it were true the gospel is still the happiest and most peaceful way to live your life. But it is true! And what a blessing it is to be part of this great work in helping others to know the same.

In other news our refrigerator was jinheneesee fixed this week which means we could be seeing meat in the house for the first time in 2 months.  What a blessing!  This week we're making prishkii with a member (the happiest member of all time, Sister October) and we’re pretty excited.  Also another bathroom hole digging service project is on the schedule, so bust out your pickaxes. Snow is coming in next week so we're headed off to what may be the last outside basketball of the year.

If you still haven’t read the Ensign this month do it because it’s filled with little gems. Here’s another:

There is a story told of an old Cherokee teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight, and it is between two wolves. One is evil: he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”
He continued, “The other is good: he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you—and inside every other person too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
Remember the choice to lead a joyful happy life is entirely up to you.  Understand that circumstances never have and never will determine destiny.  Feed the right wolf!

Have a great week,
Elder Neuberger

Editor's Note:  The link to Elder Farmer's blog is now functioning (see right margin).  They have been traveling a lot and I think you will enjoy the reports and photos.  The following photos were actually taken from their site.