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

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