Monday, August 5, 2013

Last One Baij Magadgui‏

Due to impending travel to the countryside with my sponsor next week and the family coming in the week after, this may be my last chance to get a real letter written before I'm back in ex oron. 

Quick notes from the week include our investigators who passed their baptismal interviews and are set for this Friday as well as meetings with the President and a split with the Songino Elders that allowed me to see a couple of new members in that area. I met with Bayarbold and Erdenebat each of who are doing great.  This weekend was quick with church, a family home evening, and a great ward mission meeting that we ran successfully for only the third or fourth time since I've been in the branch .  .  . score!

So as the time marches steadily forward towards the close of the transformative two years that is a mission, it has become increasingly important in some small degree to document and determine what these two years have taught and meant to me.  To fail to do so would be, I suppose, to risk forgetting in the ensuing years the things that have become so fundamental in the life of a missionary constantly immersed in the work of the Savior.  To acknowledge that there has been some change in these two years is relatively easy especially in the terms of the tangible:  a new language coupled with experience in a foreign culture, an increased knowledge of the scriptures and a greater capacity to express the doctrines of the gospel, etc.  But where it is less apparent, and the part I see most fitting to share with you as I close out this blog is that of the less measurable.   That of fortified faith and purified purpose, of relationships with deity and fellowman.  In short, the change made from a distracted, disoriented teenager, who found it difficult to fulfill home teaching assignments, inconvenient to wake up for church, and completed the bare minimum of church callings and christian covenants only by the persistant persuasion of loving leaders and patient parents and into a disciple of Christ filled more fully with charity and an increased interest in the service of others.  Ready to stand with Paul to "give every man that asketh a reason of the hope that is in me."

My mission means everything to me!
There's really nothing that compares in any stage of life to that of serving a mission. To wake up every morning, put on the name tag and ask the Lord to place in that day's path those who need the light of the gospel.  Being a missionary is filling each hour of each day with activities targeted at building the faith and testimonies of others and watching it build your own in equal portion.  It's being absolutely exhausted when you stumble in the door at night, attempting to stay awake on buses and yet waking up each day at 6:30 ready to give it another go.  It's learning to love every facet of the gospel and wanting everyone around you to love it just as much as you do.  Being a missionary is loving those around you and finding ways to serve, lift, inspire and help people everyday.  It's being devastated when people chose not to follow Christ and overjoyed when they do.  It's building a relationship with God and recognizing that you need his help as much as possible.  It's praying like you've never prayed before.  Being a missionary is being obedient because you want to not because you have to.  Making obedience a quest not a burden. It's learning to live with, learn from and love a companion who you may never have even tried to be friends with otherwise.  As a missionary you are put in a seemingly impossible situation being called to preach the gospel to every nation tongue and people; people who in many situations are more educated or at least more experienced than yourself.  In some situations you may find the people speak a language so foreign you wonder if you'll ever learn.  But the Lord knows and directs and shapes each missionary for his own purpose.  He understands what such a task may look like through our very limited mortal vision and He allows us to take it on; perhaps for the very reason that when we do call upon the powers of heaven and they distill upon us as the dews from heaven as the scriptures say they must. We will then know that it was only through His grace and His mercy and His love that such a task was accomplished   We must then in such moments, recognize what the author of a family favorite once penned. "That feeling of a sudden burst of wanting to do some great thing.  We feel a wonderful happiness and then it passes, because we have said, "No I cant do that. It's impossible." Whenever something in you says "Its impossible,"  take a careful look around and see if it isn't really God asking you to grow an inch or a foot or a mile that you may come to a fuller life and know that the only possible way lies right throught the middle of impossible.

A mission...our mission is about enduring to the end.
5 Greatest things I've learned from my mission

1.That God loves every one of his children and is in the details of our lives.
2.That this church and the doctrine adjoined to it are a catalyst for joy and peace and the source of all true happiness in my life.

3.Families determine the states of physical and spiritual well being for those apart of them.  In that sense who I want to be as a brother and a son and a father and a husband.

4.The Glory of God is intelligence. And knowledge coupled with faith is a principle of power.
5.No matter where you find yourself in life or on the map, you can find some one in remarkably close proximity that you can lift, inspire, help and serve.

I love missionary work! and its' difficult to see my turn as a full time missionary coming to a close, but I'm grateful for everything that it was.  I know that God lives and the Church as it was in the time of the Savior and is now in these latter days is the true and living church.  I know we are led by prophets even in this dispensation and that their words can act as a light in a darkening world. Missionary work is the work of our loving Heavenly Father anxiously waiting for our arrival back in our heavenly home.

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Have a great week,
Elder Neuberger

Monday, July 29, 2013

Time for a Top Ten

We had a wonderful week and are looking toward two baptisms next week and one the week after before it's time to go.  We found an absolutely golden investigator this week who is prepared beyond imagination with a small background in Christianity and a desire to find the truth.  We had splits with the AP's this week and continue to meet with several ALA's.  Sprinkle in a little English and a zone training meeting and it was another great week of being effective and productive. 
This week I thought a lot about a year ago at this time as Elders Wilson, Jolly and Huff prepared to leave.  My biggest reflection was what Elder Wilson told me the night before they left.  "The next year is going to pass like a week"  True in every way.  The next was about one of the last letters Elder Wilson wrote which was a nod to ESPN I'm sure, in the top ten format.  As the number of emails I get to write from internet cafes in Mongolia is quickly diminishing I felt the best way to work to some sort of a close would be to compose a similar list...

Five reasons coming home will be bearable:
1)Family-This would probably top the list of any missionary and for me it tops it by a long shot.  I love my family so much! and I feel I owe them for two years of support, letters and being behind me in everything.
2)Living the Gospel in everyday life-"But isn't that what your doing now," you ask.  Yes, but living the gospel when there are other things going on around me; prioritizing so the Lord is always first and find times and places to be a missionary after serving a mission are all parts of what makes this #2. 
3)Learning-Ask me again in a month but sitting in a chem lecture sounds great.  Learning about everything, becoming educated and participating in intelligent conversation.  If I enjoyed learning before my mission I think that desire has increased about ten fold.  This quote from Brigham young about sums it up:
"If men [and we would add women] would be great in goodness, they must be intelligent, for no man can do good unless he knows how; therefore seek after knowledge, all knowledge, and especially that which is from above, which is wisdom to direct in all things, and if you find any thing that God does not know, you need not learn that thing; but strive to know what God knows, and use that knowledge as God uses it, and then you will be like him; [you] will . . . have charity, love one another, and do each other good continually, and for ever. . ."
4)Being the greatest Home Teacher/ Calling fulfiller. This one relates a lot to number 2.  After almost fighting people to do their home teaching and seeing the benefits when it's done, I want to do all I can  without a dragging-our-feet, staring-at-our-watch, complaining-as-we-go approach to discipleship a President Uchtdorf explained in a recent conference.  Continue to love the people I'm called to serve.
5)Talking to People-What? Who? Elder Neuberger?  You mean the kid scared of talking to the lady at cash register at the store? Yea.  A lot of times people go on mission and the fact that you have to be so open forces them out of their comfort zones.  For me it was a bit the opposite.  I think the absolute inability to communicate for the first however many months and then the gradual increase from there built up a tremendous desire to just talk with people that never really existed before.
Top Five things I'll miss about serving in the Land of the Blue Sky:
5)Teaching English - I think this one was on Elder Wilson's list and it stands.  Two years ago I would have traded half my white shirts and a cool tie to not have to teach English.  But the relationships that I have build with those I have taught and with my sponsor are as strong as any other that I've made here.  I really can say that I enjoy teaching English.
4)Mongolian - I don't care what the MTC says. Mongolian is without a doubt the hardest language to learn for multiple reasons listed in several earlier letters.  It's mind blowing in the MTC and continues to be mind bending throughout the journey.  I would be the last to say that my language is anything spectacular, but I will miss the daily challenge it has been to learn the language and improve my ability to communicate with people. I've learned more then Mongolian from learning Mongolian.
3)Companions - I'm not sure for what reason, but I can honestly say that I have been blessed with fantastic companions at every point in my mission.  Some easier than others, but there's no companion that I'm not excited to continue contact with as I move forward.  There is certainly something about being within sight and sound of another person for 24 hour a day that causes you to rethink your relationships with others and analyze how you can be an influence for good on others.  As I think back over my companions I can see things specifically learned from each and every one.  I love my companions
2)The Mongolian People - I'm not sure of many places in America where you can walk up to a house you've never been to, with people you've never meet, knock on the door and instantly be invited in for water, bread and whatever the family is eating at the time. Beyond the unbelievable hospitality is the amazing sacrifices that so many make to provide for their family, get through school, and be members of the church.  With the backdrop of thousands of years of wrestling, the Mongolian people can be a bit strong willed, but most of the time that just means they are prepared to do whatever is necessary to finish what they started.  I'll miss all the crazy small traditions and rules and the cultural things that make Mongolia, Mongolia. I'll especially miss the new members, and members who have become great friends over this last two years. To paraphrase George Mason...To love people is truly the purpose of life...
1)BEING A MISSIONARY - It's hard to believe that my days of waking up, putting on the tag and devoting every waking hour to serving the Lord are coming to an end.  With all the stresses that come with missionary work, there can be no greater assurance that you are where you are doing what you are supposed to be doing.  Your goal is so singular; lift, inspire, love, and teach people about the amazing gift of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  There is simply nothing as difficulty wonderful or joyously hard as serving the Lord full time.  I love it.  I'll miss every facet from mission meetings to teaching investigators to just walking the dusty roads filling the day with efforts to bring others happiness. 
I have a testimony of what a wonderful tranformative experience the past two years have been as as well as an increased testimony that God lives and loves each one of us individually.  The Gospel is truly the door to greater happiness!

Have a wonderful week,
Elder Neuberger

Monday, July 22, 2013

One Last Surprise

Dear Everyone,
I can honestly say I didn't know when the transfer was this week until we got the call from the AP's on Monday evening.  Dad seemed to feel that this transfer was pretty much locked as well considering for the first time in two years there was no questions as to what is going to happen at the transfer.  So it was in this sense of false security that I found myself  talking to the AP's Monday afternoon.  The first big news was that two Americans were headed to the countryside.  One of them being Elder Naef from my group who leaves in  November and the other being Sister Shiffler who leaves in 5 weeks.  Both are in nearby cities, but it is still pretty big news that Americans are going outside the city.  Unfortunately, that means I won't see Elder Naef until he gets back in the winter.  The biggestest shock personally came next as I learned that I would not be spending the home stretch with Elder Mainbayr.  No, he is headed to take Elder Naef's spot as the ZL in the other city zone and I am picking up Elder Chingunjav who is pretty new on the mission and was just trained by Elder Williams.  However, he is not the other ZL for our zone, that would be Elder Stranski who is still finishing up his last 6 weeks with his trainee.  Pretty crazy!  Elder Stranski and I will be doing quite a bit of coordinating over the phone and taking some time out of each week to plan things together.  With the new president being just that, new, we both feel a bit of heightened responsibility in making sure everything is running smoothly in the zone.
After the initial shock wore of it was back to business as usual with our combined district/zone training on Tuesday that went fantastically.  The two highlighted topics were obedience and safety (of course deeply related, lol).  We ran the meeting in the clerk's office of the Songino church and the odds seemed against us as we got started squeezing 10 people in the room.  But people brought their A game as far as participation is concerned and we had a wonderful discussion on the blessings of obedience. We shared from Elane S Dalton's talk form last young women's conference as well. She does a wonderful job at explaining the circles of influence that we truly have when we make decisions.
Wednesday turned out pretty cool when Elder Naef and I had to wait for our new companions to show up from Baganuur and ended up spending the first half of the day as companions.  We talked for about four hours and it was great that it turned out that way before he left for the countryside.  
Splits with Elder Stranski on Thursday where we found out that we both listened to all the same music growing up.  Teaching with Elder Stranski all day was a great experience and we taught an amazing Plan of Salvation lesson to a girl whose grandmother had just died.  
The rest of the week went amazingly according to planned.  The last three days of the week we didn't have a single lesson fall through!  That's a miracle for sure!
One month to leave it all in the field!
Have a great week,
Elder Neuberger

Monday, July 15, 2013

Naadam Boloo

It feels like it was yesterday that we were saying goodbye to Elder Titensor and Elder Woodward, thinking we have the elections, and the arrival of the new mission President and then Naadam shielding us from August .  .  . and now even Naadam has passed.  What a great week it was though.  The front half was filled with English teaching and service projects.  We hauled a house full of furniture from one house to a house way out in the back of our area.  Elder Lloyd joined us providing the comedic commentary for the entire event.
The middle of the week brought our first zone leader meeting with President Benson which was great as we did the whole thing in Mongolian. One thing he definitely brings to the table is energy and how much easier is it to express love and get to know the Mongolian elders and sisters when  you can do so in their own language.  He's great and reminds me a lot of Uncle Chad .  .  . also a great guy. Go Clemson .  .  .

That evening our attempts to meet with people failed a bit with everyone preparing for Naadam anyway.  Which brings us to the biggest annual happening in Mongolia  A few of us in my MTC group played it smart and got tickets way back in February buying two tickets a piece for who ever we would be companions with during Naadam.  That worked out perfectly and we got in to see the opening ceremonies.  It was awesome for my Mongolian companion who had never experienced Naadam in the city much less gone to the stadium grounds.  The production was amazing with thousands of people participating and forming the map of Mongolia at one point.  The traditional clothing was as colorful as ever and there were some horse riders pulling off some stunts that would have had Secretariat applauding.  My companion is huge into Mongolian wrestling, so after the opening we stayed and watched for an hour which was fun because I got to pull on his knowledge and increase my own as far as the sport goes.  We were sitting pretty far off and he was naming people like they had numbers on their backs, but of course they were just wearing the blue speedo and red sleeved top).  Mongolian wrestling is great.  Much to the opposite of American/whateveryoucallthewrestling. The rules are super fall, you lose.  I know those who are avid watchers back home are already aware, but this year's champion was Epkhembayr.  It was his first time as champion and he looks to make a run from here on out.  He's a big guy....really big.
After the stadium we were off to Elder Lloyd's where we made without a doubt the greatest khuushuur of all time.  Here's the menu: Sweet and sour chicken khuushuur,  bacon cheddar BBQ chicken khuushuur and finally apple pie khuushuur with ice cream and chocolate sauce.  It took the entire week to find all the ingredients, but it was worth it.  We had about 14 missionaries all going at it. 6 bags of flour 4 kilos of chicken. Later we all headed to Sukhbaatar Square to take pictures with other missionaries.  Great day!
On the second day of Naadam, the President set up a get together at the church where we played some traditional games and heard a speech on the history of Naadam.  More khuushuur and some quality time with the Benson kids.  Tommy and I became really good friends this week.  I had forgotten that little kids speak English.  Tommy, age four, is hilarious and probably my favorite little Benson.  BTW his favorite ninja is the green ninja.  Why? because it can turn into the golden ninja of course.

The rest of the week went great with a few people finally being able to meet near the close of the week.  It's on to more city wide soccer today.
Have a great week,
Elder Neuberger

Monday, July 8, 2013

Dropped Ball

So i feel a bit bad messing up Dad's Monday morning "Christmas," but we finished P-day and realized we hadn't sat internet.
But on the bright side we did a ton of stuff today including getting new shoes, finishing my new suit for 60 bucks hand made. And getting sized for a sweet ring that my whole MTC group is getting. It says CTR in Mongolian in old script....sooooo awesome!!!!!
Everything else is Naadam this week.  Goood times!!!!
Love you all sooo much!!!
Kristi, there's a big hug coming your way as well!
Hope the 4th was great!
Elder Neuberger

Monday, July 1, 2013

Presidential Changes and Not

For those of you avid followers of the Molgolain election progress you probably already know that the current president, President Elbigdorj, will be retaining his post at the head of the Mongolian government for another 4 years.  Unfortunately, that's not the candidate that my sponsor was supporting, but my sponsor was successful in collecting all the electoral votes in the regions he was in charge of, so no blood there.
It's hard to know where to start, but I suppose the most build up event from the past week was the breaking down of the old house....didn't disappoint.  It was a one story house with an attic.  When we showed up there was a pile of axes, sledgehammers and pickaxes.  I was expecting at least a small degree of guidance as to the proper technique and strategy, but the little lady was like, "yea pretty much just bring it down as fast as you can."  We haven't sent video into the department of health and safety, but the lack of gloves and protective eyewear would probably be very low on the list of complaints they would have.  Or in other words it was amazing in the same way scout camp is amazing to teenagers who can't wait to play with fire and knives for a week.
This week was another highlight reel in several other missionary areas as well.  On Wednesday we were standing at the bus stop when a man engaged us in conversation and showed general interest in the church. We ended up meeting with him the next day.  A forty year old unmarried man who spent 11 years in prison and has now turned his life around and works as a carpenter.  The entire experience felt so classic missionary.
Friday was the baptism for Naranchimeg and the Chingeltei Elders had a baptism as well.  Everything went wonderful and three or four women from the ward were there to be with Naranchimeg for the event. Everything went great and both of the sisters who were baptized had wonderful stories as to how they had made it to the gospel.  The Chingeltei Elders' convert is a member of a family who has been members for 13 years, but she has never accepted the gospel herself.  When Elder B went to go meet with the family one night he asked if she would be interested in hearing more about the gospel and she accepted.   Simple as inviting.
We ran from the baptism to Sukhbaatar Square to meet up with the Elders from Khanuul for this week's exchange.  I spent the ensuing day was Elder Lloyd (yes from the MTC group).  Probably one of the greatest days ever.  We tag teamed two English classes both with unplanned lessons and both went perfectly. Teaching English has now become almost borderline fun.  Then we ran around in the rain meeting with a couple of investigators before finishing up the day with my sponsor for English class/dinner.  (we may or may not have eaten caviar).  Elder Lloyd and I had a ball teaching him English together and the night culminated with the three of us taking funny face pictures on his new ipad mini.  We were running late so he drove us home and we made it just in time to switch back with our companions.
Sunday was quick as well.  The Farmers were there today so I got to chat with them and allow them to experience the meeting in their native language.  Today was the fifth Sunday of the month which means the missionaries give talks.  I was super pumped and gave 15 minutes on acting even when we feel we haven't received direct revelation.   Using the gifts and knowledge that the Lord has given us to make the best possible choice and then to move forward in faith.  I think it went pretty well and my companion did fantastic as well. We finished the day meeting with our investigator Chogjinjalav, our other investigator looking toward the 19th of July and our weekly dinner with the RM who served in Arizona and her family.  Home in time to collect numbers from the entire zone, put together today's encore to last week's soccer and somehow get off the phone just after 10:30 to get to bed.
Best moment of the week:  This morning all the missionaries met at the main building to present President and Sister Clark with a painting.  We got there early and all lined up on the stage while the AP's lured the President downstairs with some great ploy.  When they walked in we all began to sing "Called to Serve" and presented the painting.  After we sang and Sister Clark had wiped away a few tears, the President had us all sit down for a moment.  He then gave a 20 minute spirit filled thank you complete with a story of finding the diamonds that are right inside of us instead of going looking for them somewhere else.  Sister Clark added a few words and it was opened up for questions.  Questions were asked such as what are their plans for after the mission and what they had learned.  There was a feeling in the room of no one wanting to leave and break the moment.  Spontaneously we began to sing "God Be with You Till We Meet Again" followed by a kneeling player by President Clark.  Easily one of the spiritual highlights of my mission and a great way to end not quite two years with President Clark. 
Have a wonderful week, 
Elder Neuberger

Monday, June 24, 2013

2013 Ulaanbaatar daxi nomlogchiin delkhiin avraga!!!‏

Well this letter comes after a personal victory of somehow organizing a 22 missionary, city wide, 2 zone soccer game.  It took us since last Wednesday to get all the details worked out and the go ahead from President, but it went off with out a hitch.  The only disappointment being that we weren't able to put up the W.  A late hand ball in the box derailed our comeback efforts.  Everyone seemed to have a great time and we even organized for everyone to wear their teams' colors so we all looked super professional as people were walking by.  My entire group was there and fortuitously ended up on the same team. Elder Naef had brought an American football as well and that got a few tosses at the end.    A quick visit to the dentist for my companion's fallen out molar and then to the seamstress (unrelated to the dentist don't worry). That brings us to the Internet cafe and then to some shopping before getting out and meeting with two investigators this evening.
Looking at the week ahead mark your calendars for Tuesday where we will be teaming up with the khan uul elders to demolish a house.  I've been looking forward to this service for two weeks now and we are pretty excited.  It works out really well because we will run a quick zone training near the to-be-torn-down house right before the project.  If it's as awesome as it sounds like it is going to be, I may have to find a way to send pictures.  This Wednesday brings the elections for your next Mongolian president.  Odds are in favor of President Elbigdorj staying in office for another four, but I'm personally pulling for the 12 time Nadaam wrestling-champion-turned politician, B. Baterdene.  He's a student of my sponsor and they are really good friends. In the event of a victory it could mean a quick trip to the government building to take some pictures.  My sponsor has educated me on politics in Mongolia so that I can and "wow" people when I start talking about political parties and what not .  .  . good times, lol.
Looking not much further past that to the next Monday and then Wednesday brings the arrival of the new mission president and the leaving of President Clark.  As always the turnover will be quick.  They won't spend more then a few hours together, just enough to turn over the keys to the Land Cruiser. It's hard to believe that President is really leaving.  Seeing missionaries come and go is one thing, but the President has always been there and it seems like something that just shouldn't get changed.  Because one of our investigators was meeting with President Clark this Sunday I was able to visit with Sister Clark for a moment.  They'll be booked until the moment they leave working all the way down to the wire.  As far as meeting the new mission president goes, there are no major mission events for another month or so, but I imagine we will get to interview with him for a brief moment.  We will have a zone leader meeting the day after President Clark leaves on the 4th of July. (hope Sister Benson makes burgers, lol)
Speaking of food I didnt really know where to fit this in, but in response to a question I haven't really eaten much fruit besides bananas, apples, and oranges. Anything outside of those are only available if you're really looking and they are all way more than a missionary budget would allow.  A bag of grapes goes for about 15 American dollars.  Fruits is awesome.
Our investigator Naranchimeg has passed her interviews and is set to be baptized this Friday.   It actually works out perfectly because our branch president, who is her best friend's husband, will be back in town this week for the event.  It's been a long time coming for her and she has shown unwavering faith despite some difficult setbacks.  From experience I've learned that a friend in the gospel is the largest defense against inactivity.  With the help of the wonderful ladies of the Relief Society we have been able to surround Naranchimeg with wonderful friends and acquaintances.  Elder Bayrtsogt also has a baptism that night and we are going to throw together a musical number for the evening.  Everything looks good to go.
We have a couple other investigators poised for baptism including a young man who lived for 10 years in America.  I LOVE preaching the gospel in Mongolia, would not trade the experience for anything.  However, there was a special something in bearing my testimony and sharing scriptures in my native language as well as his.  He's 19 and planning on attending the University of Chicago in the fall.
A great experience I had this week was going on our first splits as zone leaders.  This week we worked with the Songino elders and I took Elder Odd out in my area for the day.  He has just experienced his first weeks with a native companion and the stress and anxiety was a bit visible on his face.  As we had a closing interview at the end of the split I smiled inside as he listed a number of things that had bothered me in the same way a year and a half ago. As we sat and spoke of ways to overcome the problems he was facing I could see so clearly in my mind the way that each problem was to be resolved through my own specific experiences and the promptings of the Spirit.  After the many missionaries who have blessed me in my service in Mongolia, it was a wonderful experience to turn back and lift another just beginning.  
A lady had us over for dinner this past evening and served us the gel that gets boiled off when you boil sheep bones. You mix it in with your boiled water as a drink.  The surprise on peoples' faces when you tell them that you have had some unusual Mongolian food before and that no, it won't make you throw up if you drink/eat it, never gets old.
Still loving Mongolia,
Elder Neuberger  

Monday, June 17, 2013

Happy Father's Day

I think being on a mission and mingling among those from every kind of background has opened my eyes for the inestimable worth of good fathers.  Not that a loving mother isn't just as important, but it seems that they are somehow much easier to come by. Mothers seem more willing or able to be good mothers.  But a good father, one willing to sacrifice for their family and put off their own desires for others, are as Elder D. Todd Christopherson describe in conference, they run at a premium.  
Our mission has added a new key indicator in the numbers we make goals for every week. It tracks the total number of people we meet who are over 18 years of age and who are eligible for or have received the priesthood.  Not only are strong fathers necessary for keeping their families rooted in the gospel, but they are also a major statistic as to whether or not any given location is ready to receive a temple.  One in every 18 or so active members must be an active, worthy Melchizedek priesthood holder.  This week we found ourselves meeting with fathers from both sides of the spectrum.  There are several fathers on our investigator board who's families have shown the faith to be baptized, who have gained testimonies and know the church is true but can't quite kick an addiction thus keeping their families from being sealed for eternity.  Now with that in mind there are several other fathers within the boundaries of Sukhbaatar, members and non, who lead their families unselfishly in the best way they can.  Who work long hours at low pay to keep food on the table.  In all of this, it would not however take much of a social scientist or survey team to find out quickly that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the greatest help to building the foundations of strong families. Not that there are no other ways to strengthen family relationships and find happiness, but for tried, tested and foolproof there's simply no better way...Which simply increases my gratitude for the special home that I was lucky enough to be raised in, supported and surrounded by gospel principles and lead by an amazing father.

This quote from this month's Liahona about sums it up:
“When we have sampled much and have wandered far and have seen how fleeting and sometimes superficial a lot of the world is, our gratitude grows for the privilege of being part of something we can count on—home and family and the loyalty of loved ones. We come to know what it means to be bound together by duty, by respect, by belonging. We learn that nothing can fully take the place of the blessed relationship of family life."
We had a great week this week with lots of meetings with investigators, a run to the Zakh and soccer in the mornings (4on 4 my MTC group vs.)  We are looking forward to Naranchimeg's baptism on the 28th.  I ran into a new member from Songino on Thursday at a random bus stop.  He stopped me and we were able to exchange a few words before jumping on the bus. He told me how he had graduated from seminary and thought he might see me when he got his diploma at the main building.  He then told me about the upcoming trek for the youth and how excited he is for that. It really is a happiness you can't describe when you see others that you had the chance to help in some small way, growing and developing in the gospel.
I can't believe that Scott is home (what a great guy). Although the pictures from the airport did bring me to the stark reality that I will no longer be average height anymore come September... Everything else sounds great from all of you back home. Give your dad a hug!

Elder Neuberger

Monday, June 10, 2013

Wearing the Onion Belt

So with a little more information and the transfer now several days behind us, let me try and explain how everything turned out.  Elder Muldowney is now companions with Elder Lloyd in Khan-uul across the city, but as you know that means not really that far at all.  I'm still in the same area, but my companion and I are now the zone leaders for the Songino zone (one of the two zones in the city).  My companion is Elder Mainbayr. I think that I at least told you that much last week.  He has been out a year and 7 months and has never served in the city.  He is 25 and was raised by his grandparents in the countryside before studying in the city and graduating college.  He wants to continue his studies in business after the mission.  As for things of more importance, he is the humblest ready to work missionary ever.  Always happy and yet able to be completely serious when he needs be.  And he even knew what the green jacket was and named some golfers!!! haha  He knows a lot about sports which is a rarity.  It should be a great 11ish weeks.

I don't think you can really have a transfer that goes completely smooth and this week proved to be as such.  After spending all Tuesday building a fence with the Khailaast Elders, we received a call early the next morning that Elder Williams companion had to leave the city early the next morning and we would be a threesome for the day.  By 8:30 we were out the door to the busstop to drop off Elder Chingunjav.  After wating around there for a while it was back to the apartments to pack up and clean not just the one, but both of them.  By the time we got Elders Muldowney and Williams ready to go and the apartments looking livable, my sponsor had called and wanted to have our English lesson before Elder Muldowney left.  So the three of us trundled across the city to my English sponsor.  Turns out that a famous classical music group in Mongolia uses the rooms of our school for their rehearsals and as a recording studio.  We got a free concert and they told us to come in and listen whenever we want.  We took some pictures and I didn't even know they were famous until I showed my new companion later.

We put together our first successful meeting with the branch missionaries this week.  Even though we don't have a ward mission leader we decided to run it and we were able to get the ball rolling.  Hopefully by this next week we will have all of the new members meeting with ward missionaries at least once a week.  That would be a tremendous load off our shoulders and really free us up to focus on less actives and investigators.

We found some success this week taking the branch president with us to the home of some less active members that live outside the city.  Though the numbers for church attendance wain during the summer months, there are still several strengths in the ward including the Elders quorum president who presided on Sunday because the entire bishopric was out of town.  Our efforts are definitely focused on working with ward members and leaders.

On Friday we had zone leadership council where all the zone leaders get together and get the unique opportunity of listening to President Clark talk about the  conditions of the mission and then work together to see how we can fix any pressing problems and prevent against arising ones. I've said it before, but anytime you get to spend time with President Clark in a more private setting it's always a privilege.  Elder Osorjamaa is also a zone leader right now, so I got to spend some time with him as well, bonus!  Plus Sister Clark made lunch...double bonus.
The work is plugging along here in Sukhbaatar and with less English teaching, we're just getting started.  With the presidential election and naadam in our sights nothing is going to slow down.  I'm so grateful for the bonus month that my group has been gifted.  Its a pleasure as always to be in the greatest mission on earth with the greatest mission on earth.

Loving every moment,
Elder Neuberger      

Monday, June 3, 2013

Climb Every Mountain

Well we've already started this week off with a bang when after morning study six of us (Elders Boyd, Odd, Muldowney, Titensor, Robbins and myself) spent the morning and the early afternoon climbing the mountain that overlooks the south side of UB.  We all met at the bus stop at 10:45 and we summited by 1:00 and got back down by 2:00.  The greatest part was the incredible 60 to 70 mile/hour winds that we were climbing against near the top.  The view from the top was amazing with the whole city in front of us and forested mountains out the back.  We climbed down to a small clearing out of the wind where we pulled out the lunch we had packed.  Today was actually Elder Titensor's last P-day. His parents come in tomorrow and he flies out next Wednesday.  Took some great pictures and got down with plenty of time to write email and .  .  . wait for it .  .  .  Go to KFC!!!  Yes, it's arrived, the first American fast food chain in Mongolia.  Its been a topic of conversation for weeks in the city.  Probably similar to the Big Bob trips of Elders in Brazil 30 years ago.  We'll probably finish  up P-day with my sponsor who wants to take us shopping.  Not your typical missionary P-day activity, but considering that we were also able to go with my sponsor into the government building and take pictures this week as well, I'm going to count ours as not a typical mission as well.

The big news of the week here is also the transfer. For the first time in ten months I won't be training (still trying to get ready for that).  I'll definitely miss companionship study out of the "first 12 weeks missionary guide" that I have now finished 4 times, but I'm also excited to finish out my time with a native companion.  Elder Mainbayr, who is just a bit younger than me mission wise, is coming in from the countryside.  We'll being leading the zone for the next 11 weeks or so.  It scares me that I have less time left in Mongolia than I just spent with Elder Muldowney!  The zone leaders for the other city zone are Elders Neaf and Williams from my group.  Virtually everyone else is training. Should be a good week with the fireside on Thursday and all day zone training on Friday.  (Where I get to see Elder Osorjamaa!!! the countryside zone leader)
This last week Elder Muldowney and I set an epic goal to teach 20 lessons, a goal that's been just out of our reach due to a 17 hour a week English teaching schedule that we have been running. We came within a couple lessons of our goal, sidetracked only by a difficult Saturday where everyone was celebrating Children's Day and were less then available to meet with us.  However, that was also the day that we go out to Sanzai, the beautiful resting place 45 minutes out of the city.  By chance we ran into a few RM's on some lonely dirt road who informed us that all of Songino and Unur wards were up in the area for an activity.  Because we had to wait another 40 minutes for the bus anyway, we took a ride from them to the place where everybody was and got to say hi to everybody from my last area.  Including one of my new members Bayrbold who is still doing amazing.  A fun blessing!
This week was highlighted also by our first English speaking investigator.  Bumbayr, who lived in the US for 10 years when he was 6 years old, was a referral from another missionary and we were able to meet with him on Tuesday.  It was quite strange to hear a Mongolian use words like freeloader, pozer, and accomplice with perfect fluency.  We had a great lesson that wound up going over an hour and a half because of all the questions he had.  Get this: He lived in Oklahoma and drove through STL all the time in route to his mother's house who lived in Illinois.  Small world.  
Times ticking so I'll pick one of a thousand other amazing parts of the week.  Another lesson with our golden investigator, the friend of the branch president's wife, Naranchimeg.  We met at the branch president's house again and that was again the best decision ever. We all taught parts of the lesson and the testimonies of the members/friends of the investigator made all the difference.
We also spent Monday evening at the home of the past district president and gave a wonderful object lesson balancing 20 nails on one to talk about families.  Go back and read Elder Perry's talk from two conferences ago about families and rethink what it means to be a member of one and your own duty.  Hint: Its not about the flowers or the extraordinary efforts, but the small everyday things that are too often seen as to unimportant to worry about.  
What a great week and only signs of another good one in the future.
Stay safe and far from tornadoes please,
Elder Neuberger

Editor's Noted: Photos shamelessly lifted from Elder Farmer's blog

Monday, May 27, 2013

Late Snow, It's All Good

We were really feeling a turn towards summer until it dropped 20 degrees and started snowing this afternoon.  It,s really coming down, massive flakes like a spring snow in Utah.  We taught English this morning and spent the rest of the afternoon trying desperately to make it back across the log jammed center of the city.  This is the last week of Elder Muldowney's English class so we are keeping our fingers crossed for a real Pday next week.  Tonight we have a quick appointment with the grocery store before heading up to the old District President's house (the nicest man in Mongolia).  His son served in the Salt Lake City South Mission and has unbelievable English.  Should all be fantastic if we can make it through this evening's snow storm It reminds me of a wonderful campout from back in the day.

Side note: apparently the 20th anniversary made it big in the Church News both the printed and online copy.  Yes, that is my face in the middle of the giant 20 formed by the fans. 

This week was crazy with two service projects, zone conference, and a cultural event that our zone did together the day before conference.  It was President Clark's last zone conference and the last for Elders Titensor and Woodward who each have less then a few weeks here in Mongolia.  The highlights included President's pep talk on getting a temple in Mongolia faster and of course the Stake President coming in and backing it all up with the why it was necessary to have a temple close.  The cultural event was great with some amazing horse head fiddle players. The service this week consisted of a day of shoveling dirt and a day of cleaning a house in the middle of nowhere, both were super fun.

One of the best parts of the week was the dinner we had last night at an RM's house whose family is part member.  She talked to us for 20 minutes about how really trying to become like Christ consists of knowing him and then knowing how to become like him.  Reading between the lines in the New Testament, and understanding in depth the reason for each of the commandments he gave.  This week I've also been finishing Jesus the Christ.  It's been really hard to put it down at the end of the night when 10:30 rolls around.  It's amazing how real the book makes the events of the Savior.  Not that the New Testament is vague, but there are times when you don't really feel you have the whole scope of what's going on in the stories, like your watching them all through a keyhole.  And when you read Jesus the Christ it's as if Elder Talmage has swung the door open and allows you to see more vividly what is going on around the Savior in each moment of his ministry.  The insights and testimony left in the book are witness to the divine aid that Elder Talmage received while writing its 700+ pages in the temple. 

My testimony has been strengthened that the Savior lived and does live, that his love was deep and abiding beyond our mortal realization and such that no one could find their way outside of it.  I love the Gospel. I know its true.

Have a wonderful week,
Elder Neuberger

Monday, May 20, 2013

Graduation Speech . . . Check

I think Dad may have jinxed the weather last week on Skype as the cold weather set back in and we got hit with some high winds and snow fall on Saturday.  In case you were keeping track that does indeed beat out last year's May 16th snowfall for latest snowfall in the year. It's really hard to imagine heat and humidity at the moment.
This week we focused on three investigators in particular who are all preparing in quick succession for baptism.  We met with all of them at least twice and some more than that. Combined with my last scheduled week of English teaching at Jonon Institute of Technology (can you believe that) and the week seemed like it was over before it began.  
Because it was the last week of school, I promised all my students cake and a movie Unfortunately, we couldn't get the movie to work in either class, but the cakes turned out great and holding them for the the ten stops on the bus each morning has my forearms looking great as well.  In the class on Thursday we just ended up talking about the past 18 months and the class presented me with a cool CD with pictures of the class and their performance from their New Year's celebration.  They all signed it and then we all took a picture together.  That was great and that's about how I figured the last day for my other class would go on Friday, but I was dead wrong.  On Fridays I always teach one on one with my sponsor first and then go teach another class.  He informed me that all classes would be cut short and that after 30 minutes we would all watch the graduation ceremony for the graduating class.  So we quickly ate the cake and all went upstairs.  This is where it got ridiculous.  Allow me to paint the scene .  .  .  About 60 or so parents jammed in the back of a small room; many of them wearing their traditional deels having just come from the countryside and probably never having seen a white person before.  The graduates were lined up in the front of the room and there was an MC.  The MC was extremely tan. I seriously thought he was black when I first saw him. And he had curly, long hair in a ponytail.  I'm pretty sure he thought he was invited to announce a sporting event up there.  It was unclear if he was announcing the names of the graduates or the starting lineups for an NBA finals game. He was pretty enthusiastic.  I was contently watching from the outside of the room when I get the nod from the sponsor to come on in.  It took more than one nod, but I did make my way up to the front where I was immediately given the mic and asked to give a speech.  I'm not sure how it went, but everyone smiled and clapped.  The climax of the hilarity was when after I spoke we all sang a song and that was the end.  The only thing before me was a guy who read a poem.  I had literally been planned in as the graduation speaker.  To top it off, afterwards the class that I had been teaching before the ceremony had prepared a few gifts to give me, including a miniature light-up ger, a framed morin khur with four golden ankle bones, and a few hand painted leather pictures.  Elder Muldowney also received flowers and an assortment of other goodies.  It wasn't until reviewing the events later with Elder Muldowney that we appreciated how memorable of a day it was.  Riding the bus home with bouquets of flowers was also pretty memorable. lol

I took a  bit longer on that story than I would have liked but let me just switch gears and share another small moment from the week away from English teaching and a lot closer to our real purpose in Mongolia.  It came in the small class gathered for the investigators' lesson at church on Sunday.  The teacher who is a returned missionary, taught a wonderful lesson on the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ and closed with this analogy which was new to me: It is difficult for us to
comprehend for obvious reasons what it must have been like for our Heavenly Father to sacrifice his son on our behalf. Our finite understanding of every concept including that of love, limits our ability to imagine the grief and the difficulty of the situation.  But to bring the idea just a bit closer, picture a railroad worker in charge of switching the tracks for the incoming trains in order to send then safely in the correct direction. One night as a train comes bustling down the tracks, he sees with horror his only son wander onto the tracks.  Quickly he checks other options, other ways that he can send the train in order to avoid the loss of his son and the passengers on board the train.  In a split second search he finds that all the other tracks are blocked by other trains and unable to accomodate the incoming train.  His choices are limited to two: Allow the train to run its course and allow his son to die in order to save the passengers on board or deviate the train and lose all of those on board  In this fictionalized account and in our own lives, we know the choice that the Father made. He sacrificed his son for the benefit of us, the passengers on the train.  Unfortunately many will never know, nor even fully appreciate  the significance of the sacrifice, but two thousand years ago a loving father counted the cost and paid it, paid it in full. Bent solely on the purpose of bringing us safely home. Amazing!
Have a wonderful week,
Elder Neuberger

Monday, May 6, 2013

Seis de Mayo

Elders Odd, Boyd, Neuberger and Muldowney with Sister Farmer
Now, I know the sudden outburst of Spanish might have some suddenly wondering if I've been transferred to the Spanish branch here in UB. To quiet all the trade rumors, no I'm still in Suhbaatar where the Farmers and the two of us Elders will be celebrating Mexican independence day (or whatever it is being celebrated) on behalf of all of Mongolia.  Bring your own sombrero...
Looking back at this week in my planner, it's jumping off the page, not so much in the form of days, but in the form of five individuals with which we had wonderful experiences this past week. Let's see if I can recap it all .  .  .
Starting way back on Monday with our new member Narmandakh who is now two weeks past her baptism and strong as ever. We've been working on teaching the new member lessons, but it's been difficult because of her curiosity on other subjects the latest of which was the atonement.  In efforts to prepare for the lesson I spend my entire personal study time reading from True to the Faith, the conference talks and Preach My Gospel.  It was easily the most prepared I've been for a lesson in my life. (Believe it or not that even includes deacons quorum lol).  Just in case, Elder Muldowney had also prepared another lesson on service.  It ended up that we spent an hour talking about the atonement and marking scriptures.  I've never met anyone with such thirst for gospel learning. Inspiring!

The second came later that same night.  We had planned to meet with Naranchimeg, the friend of the bishop's wife at 7:30, but a disappointing text had come through while we were meeting with Narmandakh that she wasn't going to make it and had gotten busy.  Then miraculously we got a call at 7:45.  She said she knew it was a little late, but if there was anyway that we could still meet.  Our member who was coming to come to the lesson was still in the church building, so we assured her that there was still time and that we would wait for her to come.  When she made it a short time later we quickly moved into the lesson because time was no longer on our side.  We started into the Plan of Salvation and it just went wonderfully.  Our member was so in tune and shared wonderful insights from his own life as well.  The end of the lesson had us speaking of changes that he had seen in his life as a result of the gospel.  Then after we finished she began to tell us that she felt she had seen some of the changes as well even in this short time.  She told us that earlier that evening she had cancelled with us because some friends had invited her over to a party.  When she entered the party (where the environment fell a little short of "For the Strength of Youth" pamphlet) she politely told her friends that she needed to leave and meet with someone, and that's when she called us.  I'm pretty sure I ran home to write in my journal.  The Spirit from the meeting was such that it was like you wanted to trap it in a jar and save it for later. 
The third great encounter was an ALA that we've been trying to meet with for awhile and as it turned out he was home alone when we showed up on Sunday afternoon.  A member of 10 years, he was the first to join the Church in his now mostly active member family.  When they moved to our branch from Sansar Ward last year he had found it difficult to continue going to church.  As we stepped in the ger we just began to talk.  Turns out he watched the World Cup as fanatically with his friends as I did with mine and we talked about sports for 20 minutes.  Then as the topic of conversation moved more spiritual we spoke of his conversion and the courage it took to become a member without his family and also about what was making it difficult to return to church now and what it would take to come back.  There was a moment where we were pretty much quoting line for line the talk given a few conferences ago about a less active member who was struggling to come back,  worrying about friends and who will remember you and what people will say. We were able to help him see, as Elder Bednar used to do with less active members, the blessings that he was forfeiting by remaining on the sidelines. What struck me the most was his comment that even though he had distanced himself from the Church, he new (just like those who were shown the plates and later fell away) that it was all true.  To end it on a happy note we have challenged him to come and meet with the branch president on Sunday.
On Saturday we were able to go with one of the members in our ward to do his home teaching with him.  Because of the low percentage of home teaching in Mongolia we counted this as a great success and so did the member.  But adding to the success was the genuine caring of the member.  He wasn't trying to just cross some small item off a "laundry list."  He went with the vision and the heart to serve.  He asked and sought the needs of the families and then responding to them he organized the service projects the next day at church.  Included in the success was the attendance of the other member and his wife at Sacrament Meeting on Sunday.  As we left the house Chimed Ah (the member) openly exclaimed that he hadn't felt happiness like that in awhile and that he felt he had done real good, something of real purpose and value.  Home teachers like missionaries are truly on the Lord's errand.
The last event was one that I was not in attendance for but I was able to hear about from several sources over the following days.  Sometime on Sunday morning I received a text from Elder Williams that my new member from last year from Sansar was bearing her testimony in Sacrament Meeting.  I knew that it had to be Sister Nymsuren who was Elder Jolley and my convert from my first couple of months in the mission.  I heard later that she spoke of her conversion story and the love and concern that Elder Jolley had shown during the teaching process.  She spoke of how they had for a time become a little less active, but they were ready to come back and that they had set a temple date and were working toward it.  All because I was blessed enough to run into her on the bus.
The Lord asks most of us, except for a very precious few, to go about his work in very silent, very unextraordinary ways.  And yet the accumulation of such seemingly small acts is in the words of the Lord "the foundation of a great work"
Have a great week of wonderful foundation laying!

Elder Neuberger

The final fan dance at the 20th Anniversary Celebration

Taking a bow

Monday, April 29, 2013

Let Try That Again

So last week's letter, as noted by a few viewers (Kyle) was a poor effort.  In an effort to make amends, let my take it back to the week before and add a few details about the 20th anniversary celebration.  Where the letter started dying was explaining the end of the week, particularly the last couple of firesides and the circus event.  Both firesides on Wednesday and Thursday night were wonderful.  Having all the old mission presidents come back was such a sight on the stand and there was such a power in their presence.  They all gave unbelievably uplifting talks inspiring the Mongolian saints. 
The only event that was really scheduled for Friday were the baptisms.  Throughout just the city area alone there were over 25 baptisms.  Everyone was excited and there were good turnouts everywhere.  At our building however there were just two baptisms.  Ours and one of Elder Bayartsogt.  As expected, Narmandakh was amazing.  She showed up thirty minutes early and was ready to go.  For the first time in Mongolia we had legitimately no water problems which brought all the stress levels way down. We were however, missing our speaker who showed up as it was his turn to speak, quite literally running into the building and on to the stand.  After a bit of out-of-breath huffing and puffing he gave a wonderful talk on the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end.  Elder Muldowney preformed his first baptism and had no problem with any of the words.  It was neat to stand and watch, thinking of myself just a year and a few months before.  I led the music, the best part of that is just seeing how many people in the audience you can get to smile.  Then Narmandakh got up and bore her testimony of the Savior.  She said she has a lot of testimonies but the most important and the biggest one she has gained is that of the Savior. She went on to explain how her life has been filled with greater joy and love for others.  It was great and as an example to all of us she brought one of her schoolmates to the service. 
Saturday brought the finale of the week long celebration and quite a bit of practice before hand.  We practiced at the church building in the morning and then moved it over for one more dress rehearsal before the performance at the circus.  On the way we went to one of the very few places here that sells anything close to resembling a "burger".  The good thing is that after a year plus in Mongolia it tasted like something up there with Five Guys to those from my group.  To those who have just recently arrived here, it was a little less than anticipated, lol.  The practice was going great until we ran out of time to get all the curtain calls practiced.  Fortunately, we winged it all and it went great.  The famous Mongolian LDS opera singer sang and they showed a video presentation of when she went to sing with the Tabernacle Choir.  We should get a CD copy of the whole event so I won't go into too much detail .  .  .  but most of the people are referring to me as "that one dancer guy." Good times! The best part was President Clark's duet at the end with an RM. After all the applause the lights went out and they started singing "A Young Boy Prayed" while scenes from the restoration went on the big screen in the background.  It was such a great way to end not only the event, but the week as well.
On Sunday we got an early call that Elder Bayartsogt's companion wasn't going to make it out of bed due to back problems .  .  .  poor guy.  But it did result in me spending the day with Elder Bayartsogt which was a blast from the past as we served the day in both my area and his, which both sandwich the area we served in together just a  year ago. The day was a blast and we spent most of the day reminiscing about fun stuff that happened while we were together. We taught two great lessons the second reminding me just how awesome of a person/missionary Elder B is. When he was finished talking I wasn't even sure what to say. It was like trying to speak after Elder Holland in conference lol. What was going to be a two hour split together turned into 12 hours, but my companion was able to support Elder Bayartsogt's companion seeing as they are from the same MTC group and that was a plus.
Last Monday was a blast!  We spent the day as a zone holding eagles and riding camels.  Eagles are really heavy.  We took tons of pictures and Elder Lloyd sat and chatted with me for the bus ride out and back. The Chinggis Khaan statue was awesome just for the fact of how far outside the city we got to travel and for how in the middle of nowhere we were.  The museums inside and the giant shoe were also great fun.  All the pictures I took are on Elder Lloyd's camera, so hopefully he sends a few to you today and I'll get the rest from him later. (Sorry no pics)
The rest of this week went amazing, without Elder Muldowney having to teach English, we were able to PR in lessons taught and help invite a number of people to be baptized.  We climbed a mountain to teach a lesson to a less active member.  Elder Muldowney also took a bit of a swim after falling out of a tree into a river. Fortunately it was shallow .  .  .  I tried to stop him, I promise Sister Muldowney! The lack of English teaching was such a freedom and gave us two completely unobstructed days to work. With the combination of waking up early every morning for a little basketball we are worn out in the best way possible.
I enjoyed a scriptures from Moroni and Paul this week in my personal study:

Why are ye a
ashamed to take upon you the name of Christ? Why do ye not think that greater is the value of an endless happiness than that bmisery which never dies—because of the cpraise of the world?

For God hath not given us the spirit of a
fear; but of bpower, and of clove, and of a sound mind.
 Be not thou therefore aashamed of the btestimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;
 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy acalling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and bgrace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
12 For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not aashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

When phrased in Moroni's question above, it seems obvious what great joy and lasting happiness that we can gain from our testimony in Christ.  And yet as Peter knows only too well, refraining from shame in your testimony isn't always that easy.  Which is why in the words of Elder Holland, I guess there really can be no "casual Christians", because in the heat of battle they will be come "Christian casualties."


Have a great week!

Elder Neuberger

Monday, April 22, 2013

20th Anniversary

So we are going out to see the giant Chinggis Khan statue and riding camels and holding eagles today so we're writing early.
For the what seems like the hundredth time on my mission, I'd have to count this week as the fastest yet.  With dance and singing practice for the anniversary celebration, other anniversary events on everyday of the week, English teaching and of course some missionary work, we were out and about from about 9:30 to 9:30 everyday.  
The beginning of the week, just after I wrote my last email, was what I guess you could call the opening ceremonies of the 20th anniversary.  After a basketball showdown with the students from the college where I teach (how many missionaries can say that?) we walked over to Zaisan Hill (the big hill with the statue that overlooks the entire city) for the reading of Elder Neal A Maxwell's dedicatory prayer.  Because of the April snowstorm the attendance at the top of the 1000 stair path wasn't the best, but it was great being there with fellow saints and singing the "The Spirit of God."
Tuesday was our day of straight English teaching.  
Wednesday night and Thursday night were the firesides each two hours long.  The first was all the mission presidents from the beginning until 2000 and then 2000 till now was the second night. Almost all of the presidents for the first night were there, but the 2000's were a bit lacking.  The Harlen Clarks weren't there, but everyone who wasn't able to make it sent in videos and we watched those.
Friday was an amazingly good baptism. 
Saturday was our two hour event of dancing and singing at the circus (downtown theater).
This was a terrible email but we really have no time.
Have a great week!
Elder Neuberger

Monday, April 15, 2013

Generally Amazing!

Although it's nothing compared to the 12 inches St. Louis got on Palm Sunday, the 5 inches or so that we have accumulated today has felt like feet in contrast to the amount of snow I've seen to this point in my mission, plus its April 14th and I don't think they were shoveling the fairways at Augusta this weekend.

It's been another crazy week of fan dance practice and singing with sporadic English teaching and missionary work thrown in.  Then we had Asia Area General Conference weekend which proved to be another absolute masterpiece.  The shinning moment of the week was Wednesday when we had a whole day with unobstructed missionary work.  Because we knew it was probably the one day of the week we were going to get, we planned the absolute best we could.  We were on the board for a perfect game early on in the day.  With all of our study done we got out the door early. Our first visit was a long way out in the back of our area and was successful with a member lesson.  1/1.  Early on we lost the perfect game to an investigator who was out and about, but were able to salvage the no-hitter as we met with his ala wife and daughter. Then our big three, our best three investigators at the church for discussions and all with members present. Our investigator who is getting baptized in this coming week had recently been telling us about how if she became a member she probably wouldn't be able to serve a mission . We had assured her that that was alright and that it was a decision she could make for herself.  Then she came into the lesson and told us "there's something that I need to tell you."  heart sinks a bit .  .  .  "When I become a member I have had the very strong impression that I need to be a missionary."  I was so relieved that the news wasn't bad that I almost forgot to be excited at first. To finish the night we got to one more ala's house to finish off a 6/6 day of lessons.  Celebratory ice-cream was well deserved .  .  . we ate 2 liters. Elder Muldowney may rival my sister Ali if not for love of ice cream, at least in total consumption.  lol

The rest of the week went great especially the ten hours of General Conference on Saturday and Sunday. Talk after talk of just wonderful spiritual insight and uplifting messages. I enjoyed Elder Craig A. Cardon's talk on forgiveness. There are always such gems amongst the Seventies' talks.  President Eyring's talk on drawing close to the Savior echoed his last conference talk of breaking down the pavilions.  I really enjoyed Elder Scott's as well on families and the point he made on parents becoming friends for their kids' freinds .  .  . check for Mom and Dad there. A lot of other great stuff as well, including as always Elder Holland!
He just makes it unfair for everyone else. How do you follow that?  Rhetorically and emotionally he goes pretty unmatched. I love General Conference.
Sorry. Times up.
Have a great week!
Elder Neuberger

Monday, April 8, 2013

Blind Ladies and John Mayer

Dear Everybody,
Great week capitalized by not having to worry for days about fixing my own schedule for school.  High fives for Dad!

Secondly, during our weekly visit to Sanzai we met with our favorite blind lady who actually has a piano in her house.  She asked us to play some hymns for her so she could just listen.  In the moment all I could hear was Mom's voice telling me I should have learned to play the piano.  But luckily I did have one song up my sleeve.  I sang and played John Mayer's "When Your Dreaming with a Broken Heart" to her while Elder Muldowney took a video.  She may or may not have thought it was a hymn.  I can't send the file because it's too big, but you can all have a good laugh when I get back.

The rest of the week was spent running from missionary work to English teaching to song and dance preparation for the 20th anniversary celebration.  We spent about six hours this week practicing an awesome rendition of "How Great Thou Art" and the fan dance that we did at the talent show on which I've picked up a second solo...  must have been all that elementary school talent show skill.  English has been nice, although Elder Muldowney's sponsor has been trying to get me to teach some classes.  My sponsor is still wonderful and says hello.  He's sad that I'll be leaving so soon and that we won't be able to go out to the countryside together.  He's given us rides several times this past month and his wife makes us lunch everyday we teach. 
We met with our golden investigator four times this week to get her prepared for her baptismal interview.  We had several meetings with members present which was fantastic fellowshipping and just makes every lesson 10 times as successful.  She was excited about tithing and fasted three times  after we taught her about it on Sunday.  She passed the interview with flying colors on Saturday evening, but we have decided to push her baptism back a week because of General Conference.  It's going to be pretty special because it will be during the week of the 20th anniversary of missionary work in Mongolia.  There should be baptisms from every branch in our building and great turn outs from members because it is one of the events on the schedule.  Sunday night we were stuck with a hole in our schedule when we got a call from or investigator, Narmandakh.  She was headed to the CES fireside at the Byansurkh, but didn't really know anyone, so she was hoping we'd be there.  We dropped everything and ran over there introducing her to everyone we could before the event started.  What a great talk from Elder Bednar by the way.
We also picked up several new investigators this week, which were needed.  We have a lot of old investigators at the moment.  Old as in years as investigators.  So it's been nice to meet with people dedicated to making changes in their lives and coming unto Christ.  One of the new investigators was a young lady who the branch president's wife works with.  Seeing the difference that church has made in her fellow employers life, she like many others inquired to know more.  She has actually attended church twice, but due to her busy schedule we hadn't been able to meet with her.  This week she and we both finally had a free blick of time that coincided, and we took the opportunity to meet with her.  It was one of the best first lessons ever and she asked so many awesome questions.  At the end we were able to bear testimony and give her a Book of Mormon and asked her to pray about it.  We left feeling great, but it wasn't until Sunday when we meet with the branch president's wife that we got the best part.  She told us that Naranchimeg has been reading the Book of Mormon nonstop, and the pamphlet at work.  She actually stayed the night with the branch president and his wife one night and they all read scriptures together.  The best was that in referencing the lesson with us she said, "Those two young men said they know that it's all true.  Do you know that?" After the branch president's wife confirmed that she did,  Naranchimeg responded, "That's what I want." What a wonderful blessing it is to not only know for ourselves, but to testify of this wonderful truth to others. 
I love you all!
Have a wonderful week!

Elder Neuberger

Monday, April 1, 2013

Happy Easter

How wonderful a time of year is Easter?! It always gets a little underplayed by Christmas as far as having its own holiday season.  But the advent of Holy Week is truly a holiday season in itself.  It wasn't the traditional Easter here in Mongolia without the Neuberger traditions, but it was still great to spend a few hours this week with the last couple chapters of the gospels and the Neuberger Easter packet.   Unfortunately we didn't pull off any "ring and runs" of Easter treats left on doorsteps or being on temple grounds on Good Friday, but it was wonderful reading and then reflecting throughout each day what happened in Jerusalem 2000 years ago.   Catalyzing the study was the assignment to speak in church on Sunday for 20 minutes coming from the bishop on Friday evening (funny how if the bishop gave me only a week's notice back home I was upset).
Easter, like Christmas, isn't very well known in Mongolia, so much of my talk was based toward just on explaining the holiday in general.  The biggest problem being that at somepoint someone translated the word for Easter into Mongolian as "the red egg holiday" which isn't helping anyone know what it's about. Visiting with members this week, most people just thought it was some Russian holiday where people eat red eggs.  It was cool to help people understand that we celebrate not only the birth of the Savior, but of course his life and resurrection through the Easter holiday.
When you think that the Savior's life and ministry are condensed down to around thirty or so chapters in the book of Matthew and then that 10 of those 30 are dedicated to the final week it brings in to prospective the importance of the holiday.
Some thoughts that jump out as they always do when thinking about Easter would be 
One: The absolute and remarkable love, patience and compassion of the Savior.  In obvious reasons for the atonement and what he endured.  But it also occurs to me, that at the Savior's very word his captors would have been destroyed.  He had displayed such supreme control over creation in times past.  And yet throughout the final 48 hours of his life and the moments before that, his love was beyond the verbal rebuke, but must have also encompassed even control over the ill thought toward those bent on his destruction.
Two: The oft cited idea of the absolute juxtaposition of light and darkness between the crucifixion on Friday and the resurrection on Sunday morning.  Of course for those that were closest to the Savior, the events must have been incomprehensible.  Their King, who had spent much of his ministry teaching of eternal life was now gone as quickly as he had come.  He had saved thousands from illness, several from the grave and yet at the final hour had not saved himself.
45 Now from the sixth hour there was adarkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.

And yet when Sunday came, in sharp contrast to the darkness of the previous 48 hours, an angelic messenger was sent to proclaim the news  and "His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow.

And then the culmination of the week, and the life of the Savior came in a singular phrase: "He is not here: for he is arisen, as he said."

The verse that stuck out to me the most this week was from Abinidai:
 And now Abinadi said unto them: I would that ye should understand that aGod himself shall bcome down among the children of men, and shall credeem his people.
 And thus the flesh becoming subject to the Spirit, or the Son to the Father, being one God, asuffereth temptation, and yieldeth not to the temptation, but suffereth himself to be mocked, andbscourged, and cast out, and disowned by his cpeople.
 And after all this, after working many mighty miracles among the children of men, he shall be led, yea, even aas Isaiah said, as a sheep before the shearer is dumb, so he bopened not his mouth.
 Yea, even so he shall be led, acrucified, and slain, the bfleshbecoming subject even unto death, the cwill of the Son being swallowed up in the will of the Father.
 And thus God breaketh the abands of death, having gained thebvictory over death; giving the Son power to make cintercession for the children of men—

He Lives!!!! And so will we!
Have a great week full of spring sunshine!
Elder Neuberger