Monday, October 29, 2012

Songino deer baij l baina‏

  • Well believe it or not it is once again time for transfers.
    I'll be sending my third straight Mongolian companion to the countryside as Elder Osorjamaa heads out to the Zuunkharaa this weekend.  This has without a doubt been the fastest 12 weeks of my mission, just an absolute blur.  It's going to be really hard to leave Elder Osorjama,a but he has became an outstanding missionary and I can't wait to see what he does in the rest of his mission.  I went to Zuunkharaa once with Elder Jolley way back in the day and my compaion has never been there, so he keeps asking me questions about it like I lived there.  I told him there was no electricity as a jok,e but it didn't even phase him.  He figured the countryside was kinda of like that.  
    The most interesting thing is that in his place is .  .  . well no body at the moment.  Hopefully that gets all worked out by Saturday.  'Im supposed to be with a mini-missionary (pause to explain that- In Mongolia non-missionary youth have this amazing oppurtunity to serve for transfer cyles as mini missionaries.  It would be like if one of the missionary's from our ward companion left and he was suddenly paired up with Daniel Larson or Sam Lindmark.)  It should be interesting.  They haven't really found one yet, so I may be pairing up with Elder Williams by the end of the week.  My district has also expanded to include Khovd and Murun (two countryside branches) although I don't think I'll be going on splits with the Elders from either area.  It should make teaching district meeting intersting too, skype-aar baij magadgui.  
    In any case Elder Osorjamaa and I will be going out with a bang with 3 baptisms on Friday.  We are extremly excited and the ward showed so much support on Sunday with everyone saying that they'll be there to support it.  In other ward buisness we had a sister get back from the States just this summer and something must have rubbed off on her because she started and filled a "feed the missionaries" calendar!  I don't even know what to do. It's amazing!  Athough its going to be tough to ever teach lessons if we're eating at a membe'rs house everynight.  Its one of those good/bad problems.
    Unfortunatley I've got to cut it short this week becasue Elder Osorjamaas has a meeting in 2 minutes.
    Have a great one
    Elder Neuberger

    Monday, October 22, 2012

    Snow, SWAT, and shoron

    A great week in Songino as the cold weather and the smoke roll in simultaneously.  I had a thousand things to say, but I’m blanking under pressure right now.  This week one of our investigators (Tsetsegmaa's younger brother) disappeared on us so we called and talked to Tsetsegmaa. She told us that he was in jail because he got drunk and sold his house.  I’m still not sure how that qualifies you for prison, but I didn't ask.  As sad as it was my companion and I couldn't help laughing at the bizarre nature of the situation.  Doesn’t happen every day. In fact I've never seen a prison in Mongolia.  

    On the other end of the spectrum we found out that one of our investigators is on SWAT this week...awesome.  We knew he worked with the police and when we asked a bit further he lowered his voice and said, you guys probably shouldn’t tell anyone, but I work for SWAT.  He showed us some pictures of himself in uniform and it’s safe to say that SWAT is SWAT wherever you are. It’s funny because Enkbayar is the nicest, quietest, shiest guy you've ever met.  And an amazing investigator who if all things work out should be baptized before the transfer ends.  He heard about and started attending church with an RM friend of his in another city and when he moved here  he came to the building on his own.

    We had a cool experience just yesterday with an investigator.  It was a sister who had come to the church three weeks ago and wanted to learn about our church because a Cambodian friend of hers who she meet in China had told her about our church.  We met and taught a condensed restoration lesson, but unfortunately she was headed to China for school in the next few weeks and had no more time to meet with us.  We said goodbye and encouraged her to continue reading the Book of Mormon and find the Church when she got to China.  She was really accepting and we were a bit disappointed that we wouldn't be able to meet with her again.  Then yesterday as Sacrament Meeting was finishing up I received about 4 calls from the same number.  At the end of the meeting I quickly called back and someone on the other end asked if this was the Mormon missionaries.  I responded in the affirmative and as I walked into the foyer I saw a women talking on the phone and quickly realized who it was.  She told us her visa had been delayed so she hadn't left quite yet for China.  “I’m leaving tomorrow and I just wanted to meet with you one more time before I left.”  We quickly took her to the investigator class and then after the block of meetings we spent an hour and a half talking about the restoration and answering her question through the Gospel of Jesus Christ "what does God want me to do during this life?" (absolutely a golden investigator).  At the end of the lesson she said her only other question was why God would kick Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden and punish them in such a way.   Great question. Unfortunately, we need a bit more time to answer it.   We then proceeded to set a time for later that evening to meet again and discuss the Plan of Salvation.  That night she brought her siblings along and we spent another hour and a half discussing where we came from; why we are here; and where we are going.  It was such a great experience to teach so much of the doctrine of the Church to one person in one day.  As we parted Duurenbileg promised that she would locate the LDS meetings when she got to China and I know that she will. Meanwhile we have two new investigators in her siblings.  It was a amazing to teach someone who has been so prepared by the Lord to hear the Gospel.
    I’m going to try to do a better job documenting awesome things that happen this next week.  There are times during each day that I stop and think "I’ve got to write about that on Monday" and then it’s gone by the time I enter the internet cafe.

    Anyway in closing, I reread Elder D. Todd Christopherson's conference talk from 2010 October, and I love the beginning:

    “Life offers you two precious gifts—one is time, the other freedom of choice, the freedom to buy with your time what you will. You are free to exchange your allotment of time for thrills. You may trade it for base desires. You may invest it in greed. …
    “Yours is the freedom to choose. But these are no bargains, for in them you find no lasting satisfaction.
    “Every day, every hour, every minute of your span of mortal years must sometime be accounted for. And it is in this life that you walk by faith and prove yourself able to choose good over evil, right over wrong, enduring happiness over mere amusement. And your eternal reward will be according to your choosing.
    “A prophet of God has said: ‘Men are that they might have joy’—a joy that includes a fullness of life, a life dedicated to service, to love and harmony in the home, and the fruits of honest toil—an acceptance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ—of its requirements and commandments.
    “Only in these will you find true happiness, the happiness which doesn't fade with the lights and the music and the crowds.”

    As a missionary I realize that my days with a black and white nametag are numbered and that it’s up to me to chose how I will spend every minute that’s left. In the broader prospective, although we cannot visibly see the end, we all will someday "run out of tomorrow"  Spend your today with the things that matter most.

    Have a wonderful week!
    Elder Neuberger

    Monday, October 15, 2012

    Generally Great

    Uram khugarmaap khyiten boloo,
    To be honest this week was a bit difficult near the end, but if anything will keep you up it’s general conference.  We had 4 baptismal interviews set for Sunday evening after conference.  Unfortunately Nacantogton's 2 year old got sick and had to be taken to the hospital where he'll be spending the next week with her.  Our golden investigator Navchaa went completely AWOL on us and we still haven’t been able to contact her since.  We met with Jargalmaa and Ankhaa right before their interviews and it was apparent that something was up.  We had known that their family was shaman, but it came out that their older brother was one of the priests and that she had been chosen to be a translator.  In any case the two of them had serious doubts and reconsiderations and the interviews became unnecessary.  Afterwards we walked the two of them home and everything turned out alright, but it was a bit of a rough evening for my companion and me.  It definitely recharged our focus on teaching for deeper conversion and preparing even better than we have been for baptism.  A bit of a tough lesson, but I think we'll both come out the other side better missionaries for it.

    Wow! That was a bit of a downer, but 10 hours of General Conference was anything but. And it was highlighted by Elder Boyd, Elder Williams and myself taking a lady in a wheel chair a couple of blocks to her house after a session.  I’m still not sure if you can understand how strange three white guys pushing a lady in a wheel chair is but we collected quite the number of fantastic stares from passersby.
    If you watched none or all of conference you should probably take the two hours to watch the Sunday morning session over again.  That might have been the single greatest session of conference of all time.
    I’m not sure it was an overall theme, but mentioned several times was the idea of leaving your nets, whatever your nets may be, and come unto Christ.  We all of course have times when we feel a little closer to the Savior and have a renewed desire to do what’s right and follow him.  But it takes real commitment and courage to leave our “nets” for good and choose the path of the disciple as a way of life.

    It's hard not to pick Elder Holland as your favorite speaker from conference, but right up there with him was President Eyring’s talk about breaking down the pavilions that we have built, obstructing God.  I love the line he included when talking about his making decisions to stay at Ricks College.  In answer to prayer he knew that the Lord would allow him to stay a bit longer.  And so it is with struggles and trials that we go through.  The Lord tells us, “you know what I'm going to let you struggle a little longer because in the end it will be for your benefit.”  How terrible would it be if as according to the plan of the adversary we weren’t able to experience trails or adversity and thus had no ability to grow. Just like Elder Bowen's talk who commented wouldn’t it be terrible if we couldn’t grieve because we didn’t know love strong enough to do so?  What an amazing force love is between the members of a family.  Although Elder Oaks talk was a bit on the sad side it was an amazing reminder of the amazing family that I have been blessed to be a part of. Elder Uchtdorf’s talk had me thinking about how grateful for the times we have set aside to be to together. Lastly Elder Richard G Scott’s talk on the temple got me supercharged to go back to the temple everyday for the rest of my life.  Especially for all of the Mongolian saints who live so far away from one here. Now its countdown till the Ensign comes out in a month so I can read all the talks again. Can’t wait!

    Well, sitting next to Elders Lloyd and Boyd for the last hour and a half greatly inhibited my writing ability this week.

    We'll try harder next time
    Elder Neuberger

    Monday, October 8, 2012


    So I have no idea what happened to last week’s letter. I wrote one, but it isn’t in my “sent mail” either.  A bit disappointing, but what can you do?

    I’ll try my best to catch you up.

    Biggest news of the last couple weeks is the return of Elder Naef (remember he left with a leg injury in early July). He will becoming off the DL at the end of the month and should be looking at good playing time come November.

    Taking it back to last Sunday.
    Buddhist items for sale at the Zaak
    Because of a less than fantastic turnout at church I had a chance at the trifecta. That’s leading the music, blessing the sacrament and giving a talk all in the same meeting. It was my first talk in sacrament meeting in Mongolia and it  just made me realize how I would have been afraid to give the prayer in an English sacrament meeting a year ago.  I think serving a mission scares the being scared out of you a bit.  After a few discussions after church we were off to my sponsor’s house who lives in Khan-uul (yu gesen ug we gekhler...bayn yum aa!) It was fun and my sponsor’s wife made some delicious Russian food.  The only weird thing was not leaving spiritual thought at the end. 

    Monday was the usual with some great basketball (If I could go to my left at all my game would be decent).  I had a great quick talk with President Clark followed by the most adventurous FHE (Family Home Evening) ever. The traffic was out of control as we headed up one of the canyons, so we ended up getting in and out of taxis for about three miles.  In the end, we found that the last mile of the road was out and we had to walk it...all of which made us just a bit late.  Only time for a quick spiritual thought and we were out, but when your with the district it’s a good time.

    Pots and pans vendor
    Tuesday we met with a young man who came to the church on his own last week when Elder Stranski and I were on a split.  He was phenomenal and we had a Mongolian returned missionary sit in on the lesson too, so it turned out great. From there we ran across the city to meet with another golden investigator named Khaasnavch who is preparing for baptism the week after General Conference by the 19th of October (BTW General Conference is available a week later than in the States).

    Jargalmaa continued to dominate the lessons on Wednesday as she broke down first Nephi verse by verse for us.  She is another who has been so prepared to hear the Gospel.  To finish off the night we met with the husband and younger brother of Tsetsegmaa, (one of Elder Wilson’s new members).  She is probably one of the greatest members of all time.  Talks a mile a minute and if you didn’t know what was going on you'd think she was super angry all the time.  Wednesday night she actually was a little angry  as she lovingly laid into her brother and husband for going out drinking the night before.  The road up to Tsetsegmaas is also a treat.  She lives up in the ger district a ways, so the only way to make it is by taxis that circle up and down the canyons and all convene at the same place.  In the evenings huge crowds of up to 50 people are assembled to get in taxis and get home.  The cars come around the corner and people just swarm them.  It took us about 20 minutes to get to the front of one of these swarms (you pretty much have to get lucky).  In Mongolia I think cars are rated about like tents are America.  That is that they don’t really fit as many as stated. So it’s body to body until its full. Ten in a Hyundai Excel is good by anyone’s standards.  I’m on my companion’s lap.  I’m pretty sure he’s on someone else’s lap and as we bounced down the road with the roof inflicting minor concussion symptoms on my head, it was one of those wonderful moments you step back and say, “Man this is so awesome! I’m in Mongolia!”
    Furniture (Dressers) for your ger

    We committed an “eternal” investigator of almost a year to baptism this week.  His father is a member and so is the cousin he lives with. We hope that he makes the commitment personal and urgent and is ready by the end of this month.
    Elder Osorjamaa and I all and all are looking to a spectacular end of the month with 9 people committed to baptism before the month is out. Wonderfully special people who have been prepared by God and who are now preparing to make covenants with Him.  
    Finally, one of the things I think I've learned most about on my mission is selfless service.  Not because I myself have been a great example of I,t but because I have seen magnificent examples over and over again of people giving freely of their funds, energy, and time.  Even when the funds are seemingly empty, the energy depleted and their time running out.  I think what allows people such as this to give so tirelessly is their making service a physical and mental part of who they are.  In other words it is a pattern of life; it’s what they do.  To the many who fit this category they may find themselves asking like those in Christ's parable:
    37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
    38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
    39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

    To these people the actions of service are reaction or a reflex of the mind and heart when they see one in need or who’s hands hang down.  Like all Christ-like attributes it takes time to build up such a unique skill.  But there’s no better place to start then today. Strengthen your service muscles and you can seek and find those you can lift up every day.

    Have a wonderful week!
    All of us here in Asia are anxiously awaiting General Conference next week  .  .  .  can’t wait!!

    Elder Neuberger

    Editor's note: Thanks to Elder Farmer for posting so many photos on his blog.  We are liberally "reposting" them.  Elder Neuberger said that he tried to send five photos today, but for whatever reason the files wouldn't send.