Monday, June 30, 2014

My goodness, native Khmae is so sweet on the ears!

How’s it going?! So guess what? I fly out to Cambodia (where the heck is that) two weeks from tomorrow (or at least we should). We still don't have our travel plans, but that is the date that we're expected to leave on! We are finally out of the middle doldrums of the MTC! It feels so good for everyone to be motivated again. There is indeed a light at the end of the tunnel. It seriously seems like it was about 6, 7, 8 months ago that I first got to the MTC. There is no way that we have only been here for a month and a half. There is just no way. We have all grown and learned so much, it’s just impossible. It is seriously beyond the comprehension of anyone who has never been in the MTC how fast you learn and grow as a set-apart servant of the Lord. 

Glad to hear that Chloe’s enjoying dance so much! That’s good that she found it so early in high school too! She kind of pulled a Maddie (tried out different things her freshmen year till she found what her niche was). Hope Riley is still enjoying tennis and working hard! Work as hard as you can now before high school so that you can develop all the good habits that make a successful high school player. Remember to always, always, always be conscious of your footwork and learn to be consistent before you learn to hit winners. And play tournaments.  Lots of tournaments.

I'm glad that the Kimball’s baby is healthy and that they're all doing great! No surprise that Colton is district/zone leader. What a champ. I'm honestly kind of jealous of those Spanish missionaries who go to foreign MTC's because they get to be immersed in their language from the get-go.

I saw Mikayla earlier this week! She seemed to be doing really well (as well anyone could be doing in the middle of their first week). I also saw Jack and Graham!! Jack is doing sooo well! He had some complications with his flight getting out to the MTC and then he lost his i.d. card that first day, so his first day was pretty hectic and rough, but I saw him at the end of it and he said he was doing great. I've seen him almost every day since and he is having the time of his life! Always smiling, always happy. He came up to me in the cafeteria and was just so happy to get a package from y’all! He said it completely made his day! It’s fun for him to see all the members of the Big House here too. Whenever anyone sees Jack they're like "OHHH ELDER GOODWIN WHATS UPPP?!!!!!" Hahaha I love how much they all love Jack. It's also been super fun having Graham to hang out with again. Yesterday at the devotional Elder LeNguyen sang in the special try-out choir as a special musical number; so I just went on splits and hung with Elder Gleason and Elder Pingree for the rest of the night (like 3 hours). We had so much fun. Being in the MTC together is just like being at BYU together except now we all speak sweet languages and have just super funny experiences with that.

For example, this week we were coming back from grabbing sack breakfast and Elder LeNguyen said something along the lines of "Yummm sack breakfast. Tasty!" but he confused the word for tasty and the word for "to crucify" so he was like "yummm crucify me!" We were all like "wait what did LeNguyen just say?!" Haha we died. 

Last Monday night we got to Skype to Cambodia! Elder LeNguyen and I Skyped this guy named Bong Seihaa. He is in his early twenties and lives in Phnom Penh. He's a returned missionary who served in Cambodia, so he knew a couple of our teachers! It was so great getting to know him and talk with him! It amazes me how much Khmae we can understand when a native speaks it! And ohhhhhhh my goodness native Khmae is so sweet on the ears! We all hear it and we're like "YES. YES. THIS is what it sounds like in its purest form!" It is so beautiful when it comes out of the mouth of a native. There are a couple natives here at the MTC! We talk to one of them all the time. Her name is Sister Teb. She’s from Battombang. She is a convert of just two years! We love talking with her and practicing our Khmae. We talked to her for a while up at the temple yesterday. We took a picture with her which I'll be attaching. She's the coolest. There was kind of an awkward situation yesterday though when we asked about her parents and she said that her dad had died and one of the elders was like "So hey is your dad a branch or stake president up there?" immediately after she had just told us that he has passed away. Kind of a slap on the back of the head moment for him. It was alright though; she understood that he's still trying to learn the language. I really hope that one day my converts will be at the MTC serving their own missions!

The mission president seminar continued this past week. Large parts of campus were closed off and it was just a big inconvenience. But Tuesday Elder Christofferson spoke to us! And get this, 5 other apostles were sitting up there on the stand with him! Elder Ballard, Elder Nelson, Elder Oaks, Elder Anderson, and Elder Bednar! Elder Christofferson gave an amazing talk on the worth of souls. It was so enlightening.

This week and next week the temple is closed for cleaning but we (our zone) was invited to help clean it this morning! I did security. It was awesome, I got to wear this sweet Provo Temple Security badge and I pretty much just sat there for 3.5 hours reading the Ensign and scriptures and letting people through or turning people away every now and again. I also had to shred tens of thousands (that’s literal) of documents and prayer rolls in this huge industrial shredder. You could say I had kind of the coolest job this morning. It was a great experience. Everyone else had a great time ripping up all the carpet out of the celestial room and carting it outside and then scraping all the glue from the carpet off the floor.

Yesterday (Sunday) we got a new district leader! Elder Elieson! He is going to be great these last couple weeks. I'm excited for him to lead us in the final grind!

Sundays and Mondays are still so, so, so nice. Sundays are just so relaxed in a spiritual way. We just wake up and eat breakfast and then go to the classroom and watch talks and Mormon messages and movies like "Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration" all morning. Whenever we watch "I'm a Mormon" ads I love to say "I'm Elder Neuberger. I'm a Mormon missionary. And I'm a Mormon." Oh man I just think I'm sooooo funny! I crack myself up.

I hope Megan’s alright. I know everything will work out and that she'll be fine. I'll pray for her.

I hope Buccee’s was fun. Can't wait to get your postcards!  That is awesome about Sister Lee's new calling as a ward missionary! She'll be great!

To answer your questions:
Are there any special activities planned for July 4th, or is it a normal day?  On the 4th we're having some special thing. Lots of talent performances by different missionaries I think. And then I think we go out and watch the Stadium of Fire from the parking lot and they have ice cream and stuff for us. 

When do you receive travel plans?  We should be getting our travel plans this Friday! We're all way excited!

Have you received your all Khmae nametag yet?  Nametags still haven't come in. I asked Lookruu Hill when my all-English tags would be getting here :)

Is there anything you need us to send you before you leave?  Nope. Don't really need anything. I'll be sending stuff home to y’all though. My black suit, shoulder bag, probably my spiral and maybe my first planner. I don't know. We'll see

I love all of y’all so much! Living away from home for the last year has really opened my eyes to how much y’all did for me in raising me in the gospel. Thank you so much mom for your constant devotion and constant nurturing. You always supported and facilitated the things that I wanted to do and were always there to care for me. I love you! Thank you so much dad for your great example in what it means to be a righteous priesthood holder and showing me how to minister and administer. I love you! I love you Maddie, Chloe, and Riley! If y’all have the time this week I watched two awesome talks a couple days ago that I think y’all should watch. The first is "Because She Is a Mother" by Elder Holland and the second is "The Greatest Generation of Missionaries" by Elder Ballard. Also, see if you can find "The Character of Christ" by Elder Bednar. That was a devotional he gave here at the MTC a few years ago and it is a classic here at the MTC. It is the only film that they show every single Sunday. It's amazing.

I love all of y’all, both family and friends! I hope all of y’all succeed in everything that you attempt, but if you don't succeed trust in the Lord and know that He is perfectly cognizant of you and is so willing to help! All we need to do is lift our hand towards Him and He will lift us up. I know that this Church is true! Joseph Smith was and is a prophet of God! The priesthood is here again on the earth and we all feel of its blessings through one way or another! Jesus Christ lives! The Atonement is real and available to us! As we endure to the end we will find greater blessings than we can comprehend!

I love y’all, have a fantastic week!

Elder Neuberger

 The spot outside our classroom building where we always go out to study

 In front of our "cherry tree".  We taped a bag of cherries to a tree.  We thought it was super funny.  Don judge us.  We had been in class for 6 hours and had studied for an additional 2 hours at that point.

 Me, Elder Gleason and Elder Curtis chilling up at the temple.

With Sister Teb, who is from Cambodia. 

Our branch presidency here at the MTC.  
President Jackson, Brother Penrod, and Brother Collister

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Secret to Becoming a Superhero

Hey y’all! I hope y’all are all doing great because I sure am! That’s a bummer about the Jensons moving away. They'll be a real blessing to their ward in California though. Though I don't know what the girls are going to do about income now that their main client is gone! Man foil dinners sound so nice right now! But I'm absolutely just loving the jello and grey steak that we get to eat every day here!!!! Yummmm grey steak and clumpy sticky mashed potatoes – makes me salivate. Oh, and don't forget soggy French fries. Wouldn't be a meal at the MTC without them!

Thanks for sending me the championship shirt! I've worn it like 8 times since y’all sent it! Nana sent me just about the greatest package ever this week with clippings from the newspaper about the Spurs championship. That was real fun to read today!

The Book of Mormon has so many crazy stories like Ammon! You've got the people of Limhi as well as the people of Alma who both make crazy escapes from their captors! You've got Nephi and Lehi and their family who trek across Arabia and then sail across two oceans to reach the Americas! You've got the group of men who wander up north and find a land covered with bones and swords and ruins and they find some plates that end up being the record of the Jaredites! You've got missionaries who convert thousands of people at once! People are thrown into burning furnaces and are saved! Prisons fall around prophets and they emerge unharmed out of the rubble and dust! Armies and civilizations clash and war and as a result of their wickedness are killed to the last man! Cities are consumed by fire, earthquakes, floods, and landslides! Volcanoes go off! Men sneak into enemy’s camps and slay opposing kings! Assassins murder chief judges multiple times! Spies warn chief judges about assassins! The Book of Mormon is like the craziest action movie you've ever seen! And of course the craziest moment of the Book of Mormon is when the Nephites are rebuilding their temple, months after the terrible apocalyptic rage of nature destroys all of their cities, and Jesus Christ himself descends in a pillar of light in the midst of them and teaches them as they sit at his feet! Wow! In addition to its infinite spiritual power the Book of Mormon also just has a super cool narrative!

I'm excited to get Maddie’s package! Can't wait to see Jack this Wednesday! He said that Tyler Whittier is the person who is dropping him off, so that’s cool! Unfortunately I won’t be hosting anymore. We still get invited but our teachers felt like we were missing too much class time because of it, which is true. So that’s a bummer, but I appreciate that we won't lose so much class time anymore from hosting! This past Wednesday I got to host both Elder Gleason and Elder Wakes though, too of my best friends from BYU!

I hope y’all have fun at dance camp and tennis camp and EFY and work! I'll still be here! In Provo! Where I've been the last decade of my life it seems like!

That's cool that Elder Thorn is back! I love that "we are YOUR missionaries" thing. When I would go out with Elder Peine he made it a big point to do that as well. It worked so well when we were proselyting. It really personalizes it.

We had Janice Kapp Perry and her husband give our devotional last night. I guess she wrote like half the primary songbook. She is HILARIOUS. Her husband is even funnier! I haven't laughed that hard in a super long time (and that’s saying something because we laugh a ton as missionaries. We're just always so happy!)

So this week our Khmae tags came in! Everyone was crowded around Lookruu Oleson outside as he was handing them out! We were all SO pumped! One by one everyone got their new tags until the bag was empty. Mine weren't in there! My name wasn't even on the list that came with the bag! It was a huge bummer. Lookruu Oleson was like, “don't worry about it, I don't know what happened but you'll get yours before you leave.” I was like “I'm not worried,” but I wanted my now! It wasn't fun seeing everybody else get to have theirs, but whatever haha. Sisters Lindley and Uresk love to say that I'm actually not going to Cambodia after all. It was all a big mistake and I'm heading off to Kansas instead. Hahaha, that very well might be true, who knows.

The rumor is that this Tuesday Elder Christofferson will be speaking. That will be our 5th apostle! I don't know if I have told y’all yet but pretty much everyone in our district sings in the MTC choir! The director is hilarious and the songs we sing are just about the coolest songs ever! The version of “Praise to the Man” that we're going to be singing on Tuesday gives me chills all over my body.

The Khmae is still coming really well (I feel like I type that same exact sentence every week). I've gotten to the point where I can read without pauses in between words, but I still read suuuper slow. But it’s coming. Made big strides in vocab this week too.

I'm super excited for tonight! We're going to be skyping members in Cambodia every Monday night now till we leave! Elder LeNguyen and me are going to give a spiritual thought on tithing. Don't ask me why, but that’s what we felt prompted to speak on. I'm nervous to talk to a native Cambodian. It's not my first time though; I've gotten to speak to about 3 natives since I've been here. We'll do fine.

I feel like I'm leaving something out. I don't remember though... Too bad so sad. I love y’all! Have the best week of your lives!

Love Elder Neuberger

From the letter Mitch wrote to his 4 & 2 year old cousins:
Burgess: The food at the MTC is kind of gross, but I have to eat it or else I'm super hungry! They do have pineapple (I have a bowl of it with every single meal!). I think that they have purple juice, but I drink the pink juice. I like it better. I don't know if they have apple pie but they have an ice cream bar every Wednesday and Sunday! Keep wishing for the gift of tongues bud! Better to get started asking for it early! I'm also super glad that you love Scooby Doo! That was me and Maddie's favorite. See if your mom will buy you the Scooby Doo fruit snacks! Those are the best:)  Thank you for praying for me bud! It helps so much! Keep saying your prayers every morning and night! The secret to becoming a superhero like Spiderman is always praying to your Heavenly Father! Keep swimming too! Hopefully one day you can be a lifeguard like me, Maddie, and your mom!

Camille: Thank you for your prayers too! Also thank you for the pretty drawing!!
I hope that I have the gift of tongues too. I think it comes more and more everyday as I sanctify myself through obedience; but it certainly works a lot differently than I thought it would. Instead of just magically making me know the language, it stretches my brain so that I can remember more, it quickens my recall, it facilitates the rewiring of my brain so that I can read this new alphabet. Our district really is huge. We've heard that it is the biggest in the whole MTC.

A painting of Angkor Thom which we stole out of the old Cambodian classroom. By the way that writing to the left of my head in the painting is my Khmae handwriting.  It says, "Elder Neuberger wants to go to Cambodia but Elder Neuberger doesn't know Khmae!" (in Khmae you use third person to talk about yourself).

 Our Khmae bible. It's the sweetest bible in the world. Red, stamped, imprinted leather. 
Let's goooooo!!!!

The verse in Malachi about tithing which me and Elder LeNguyen will be reading tonight! Like actually reading! Crazy! 

 You probably think this is a picture of a room at the Ritz . . . but it is actually my room at the MTC.

 My study desk in my room

The typical p-day clothes of all the elders in my district. I'm sporting a t-shirt  basketball shorts, dress socks and crocs. We simply don't care.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Go Spurs Go


I actually found out last night. One of the Cantonese elders looks up sports scores like every day (haha,  I'm just like . . . whatever) and he was like "yo your spurs pulled it out baby!"  I went nuts. I was screaming and yelling for like 20 minutes straight. I was sooooo dang hyped. Then I had to say goodbye to the Cantonese elders which kind of put a damper on it.  I know that they'll kill it in Hong Kong. One of them, Elder Klein, is here another 6 weeks because he blew out his knee about 4 weeks ago (I was there when it happened.  It was scary).  I'm bummed for him but excited to be able to spend our last four weeks with him still here.

Man alive, could you ask for a better birthday present than that?  The Lord blesses his missionaries.  Oh my heavens, GOOOO SPURS! Timmy, Manu, and Pop had all better retire right now or I'll be ticked. They need to go out while they're on top. Please tell me that they're all retiring.

Anyway, now for unworldly stuff.  I hope that y’all had a fun time celebrating Maddie's birthday! Thank you so much for the package! I've worn that spurs shirt like 5 times already (could you also now please, please, please send me a spurs world champions shirt?  Thanks!) and that picture book is just what a missionary needs. I've told myself that the only time I'm allowed to look at it though is on p-days. This is the time for me to not reflect on myself and my life, but to turn outwards and focus on all of God's other children. My birthday was great though (well when I would actually stop to think that "oh hey it's my birthday"). At dinner despite my best efforts to prevent it, it got out that it was my birthday and Elder Klein pointed at me and yelled its elder Neuberger’s birthday! Then all the elders in my district pointed at me so that my shame would be great and then our whole zone (which is about 75 people) sang happy birthday to me in front of the whole MTC. Not fun . . . But it was a great birthday besides that. Yesterday Sheri Dew came to give our devotional. She's amazing. It's easy to see why she's quoted in like every gospel book written.

I'm glad youth conference went well! Chloe said that it was super fun! I like how y’all did personal service. It means a lot more to both parties when they can look each other in the eyes. That's really funny about Grandpa's counselors names all rhyming (Larry, Gary and Terry). By the way, thank you so much Honey and Grandpa for the letters and for the pen and notepad. That pen writes smoother than anything I've ever seen! It's the pen I use every night to write in my journal with. 

It’s cool that you just read about the sons of Mosiah this week because I just read through those chapters in my personal study earlier this week! Those same verses stood out to me! Being a missionary has me looking at every verse wondering how it pertains to my investigators. Those missionary chapters in Alma are especially relevant to me and my district because the Lamanites had no knowledge of God, just like the people we will be teaching in Cambodia. They are great examples and models of teaching to draw from.

I'm so glad that Jack's farewell was awesome. I don't see how it would have been anything but the greatest talk ever. He's such a stud. I finally got to email him today (he said that he had been emailing to the wrong email for the past few weeks.  I think everyone emails to mitch.neuberger instead of mitchell.neuberger). He's going to be awesome. I can't wait to see him in a week and a half!

I ran into Bro. Ferguson’s father-in-law this week! He's a volunteer at the MTC that I see all the time. He helps out with hosting a lot. During kind of a pause while I was hosting last week I was talking to him about where I'm from and he was like "you don't know the Fergusons by chance do you?" I was like "um yes I do! They're in my ward!"  He was super nice.

I thought this week I might tell you some of the insights I've gotten from devotionals here. We have the opportunity to hear from general authorities on a weekly basis and I think it would be selfish of me not to share some of their wisdom with y’all:

Elder Bednar:
-Priesthood keys are an umbrella. The man who holds the umbrella is doing just that, holding those priesthood keys for everyone, but everyone underneath it is blessed and operates under its influence.

Elder Evans of the Seventy:
-We are CALLED as missionaries, and ASSIGNED to a mission. He was talking about how the vernacular and phraseology of the church is wrong when we say "I've been called to serve in Cambodia"
-He said that President Uchtdorf told him that he and his wife pray every single day together to be strong enough to endure to the end.  Kind of eye-opening that even an apostle still has to strive with all his heart to get to the end.
-He quoted Elder Maxwell saying that "truth is, I don't have the Spirit with me always, but I'm getting better".  Kind of goes in line with what Uchtdorf said.
-Then he told us don't be stupid. Great advice for everyone I think

Stephen B. Allen, Managing Director of the Missionary Department:
-A passing grade as a missionary is that you're doing your very best.
-Ask for referrals. Find people during everything you do on your mission. "Do you know anybody who might be interested in our message? Who else? Who else? Who else? Who else? Who else? . . .”

Elder Russell M. Nelson:
-Never trivialize the sacred covenant of baptism in any way
-Each convert can become the top of a pyramid of posterity
-Having character is better than being one
-Listen carefully when someone tells you their name. Ask about it and its meaning. It can open the way very easily to discussion about families
-Let the content of the Jesus Christ subtitles in the topical guide be our source of study. Study one of those topics a week. There’s something like 47 of those Jesus Christ topics

Sister Hacking, wife of MTC Presidency counselor:
-The privilege to work is a gift, the power to work is a blessing, love of work is success
-Going home exhausted is not a bad thing in the slightest
-For the happiest, most fulfilled life, work!

President Hacking, counselor inthe presidency:
-It is better to be trusted than to be loved (David O. McKay)
-The Lord's constancy is what enables us to trust him. His word means everything. Let's have our word and our oath mean everything too. When we say “yes” let’s mean “yes”. When we say “no”, let’s mean “no”.

Sister Nally, wife of MTC president:
-Small things in our lives can hide the view of much grander things.

President Nally, MTC president:
-When speaking to strangers look into their eyes because the eyes are the windows of the soul
-Step up your worthiness and obedience every single day.
-Become one whom the Lord can trust.
-Always carry on your person a small picture of the Savior that you can look at throughout the day.

Elder Schwitzer of the Seventy:
-Helaman 5:11, we can fulfill the role of the angel.
-The ability to accept, receive, and keep commitments is a prelude to accepting, receiving, and keeping covenants.
-The members of the wards are your ministry.
-People don’t care if you can conjugate your verbs correctly. They care that you care.

Elder Quentin L. Cook:
-Look and act like you have the truth.
-Exemplify the message you teach. You are the message.
-Our assignment isn't just to be missionaries but to be ward and branch builders. We are not the church's marketing department. We are out there to establish the church.
-Make up your mind when you get to a branch that when you leave it it will be stronger, more active, and more spiritual than when you got there.
-Everyone in your life will be blessed by your missionary service.

Sister Dew:
-The key to unlocking the power of covenant sons and daughters is learning to unlock the power of Christ.
-Learning to hear the voice of the Spirit is like learning a new language. It has different vocab, different grammar, and different syntax. We can learn the language of the Spirit as we read the scriptures.
-Ask Heavenly Father to teach you what it sounds like when the Spirit is talking to you.
-It is hard to be a disciple of someone that you do not know.

So those are just a few of the speakers that we've been privileged to hear from in the last month. The list is only going to get longer, especially with the Mission Presidents’ seminar starting in a few days!

The language continues to come. Our whole district made a huge leap with the script this week. Our teachers from this point on will only be writing on the board in script, so it's sink or swim! But I know we'll all swim. I'm not worried about anyone.  Elder LeNguyen and I memorized the First Vision in Khmae this week! I shared it in a lesson. It's amazing to look in someone’s eyes as you tell them about the single greatest event in modern history quoting the exact words of the prophet who the event happened to.

Answering questions:
When do find out your travel schedule?  We will find out our travel schedule in a couple weeks. You find out after you've been here 7 weeks

Did you complete your vaccinations?  We've already received both Japanese encephalitis shots so that's out of the way. They're free, the church provides that specific shot.

Do y'all eat breakfast or skip it for more gym time? We go and pick up a sack breakfast right before gym and then go back and eat it in the residence hall and then go off to gym.  People have gym all day long, we lucked out on our morning time.

How is your companionship?  Elder LeNguyen is doing great! Still getting along super well.

I love y’all! Have a great week!!


 Bro Pic with Elder Elieson and Elder Yu

A picture of three different package slips. Feeling the love!

I also hooked myself up with some goodies at the bookstore: Stories from the Book of Mormon, Proclamation to the Family, the Living Christ, a hymnal, and the Restoration pamphlet, all in Khmae.