Monday, June 9, 2014

Everyone Should Speak Khmae

Man! This Saturday will be our month mark! And my birthday will be our half-way point! That is crazy! It is so weird to imagine life outside the MTC. I have to remind myself all the time that though I am a missionary currently, my mission still hasn't really started yet.

It was so fun seeing Elder Curtis this week! I see him all the time but we really don't hang out that much. I just hang out with my district and he hangs out with his. Kind of the way things go. Districts are like families here.

The weeks are really starting to kind of drag. I mean its just the same routine day after day after day. And the middle part of the MTC (where we are right now) is so hard because you've kind of lost that brand-new missionary fire and you are also still so far away from going to your mission location that you aren't really excited about that. It takes a much more conscious effort every day to stay focused and to push myself. I'm still going strong though. The Khmae continues to come, although it seems to be coming a little slower now. I think that is just because I have a foundation of Khmae now, so my progress isn't as noticeable.  However, I'm confident that I'm learning at an ever faster pace than I was my first couple weeks, even though it doesn't always seem that way. I saw some big improvements in my reading skills this week. I was able to read the banner over the whiteboard. We've all been wondering what it said for a long time and I just stared at it for like 5 minutes, reading all the words, and realized that it was the Title of Liberty*.  That was a really cool moment for me. The Lord is helping me out so much. I honestly might know only about 5 phrases in Khmae at this point if I was learning it on my own, but after 4 weeks the Lord has us all giving 30 minute lessons in Khmae – and we only give 30 minute lessons because of time restrictions. I think everybody in the district could give an hour long lesson if we had the time in the day.

So the Khmae language is the greatest language in the world. I love it so much. How it sounds, how its read, what the letters all look like, the grammar... Everything! One super cool thing about Khmae is that it  is primarily a monosyllabic language, which means that most words which have more than one syllable are just made up of smaller, one-syllable words. Let me give you some of my favorite examples of Khmae words (the way I'm spelling these is phonetic, these are not how you would actually write them in Romanized Khmae):

dongvyy tuan = Atonement = it literally translates to "an offering to make things equal"
kaokowboy = jeans = "cowboy slacks"
kaapraejet = repentance = "transformed heart"
kaapraejetjua = conversion = "a transformed heart + belief"
preah ong songruah = Savior = "a God who saves"
krome krua saa = family = "spouse team" or "spouse group"
yoke jet tuuk dak = focus = "take your heart out and put it into whatever you're doing"
sdaap luayk = eavesdrop = "to steal-listen"
totual skoal = recognize = "to receive familiarity"
All the words in Cambodian do cool things like this! Cambodian is so much cooler than English. Everyone should speak it!

That is so cool about Jack! I love that guy! Good for him that he not only went to the temple but that he's continuing to go back. He really just has life figured out right now. He knows what God wants of him and  he does it. He is such a good example to me. Send me his missionary email address, would you? I'm excited for Mikayla and Colton too! Colton doesn't come to Provo I don't think, but I will almost certainly see Mikayla a few times. I've already seen Brooke Nielson a few times since she got here. She's doing really well. She really seems to like the MTC (I don't know why anybody wouldn't like the MTC. It's the best. The only thing better is the actual mission field).

Thank you for the packages and the letters. I'm sorry I don't respond to your Dear Elders and stuff, it's really kind of impossible. But please still send them. Reading them at the end of the day is a great release. Thank you for the package! It was super heavy though, haha, I struggled carrying it from the mailroom to my residence hall. 

That is so neat about our ward and the missionary work that is going on in it. The success that the Deerfield ward has had with all these men is a result of a few things I think: the awesome missionaries we always seem to have, our awesome ward mission leader (who all the missionaries would always rave about), and of course Dad's love and guidance for them once they become members. I also think that everyone in Deerfield is just so welcoming and loving. It's really such a great environment for effective missionary work to take place. What's the use of baptizing people into the church if the members won't help retain them? There needs to be an active effort on the part of everyone to bring people into the fold and to keep them there and that is what is happening in Deerfield.

Let me answer your questions:
Do you see your friends from the dorms?  Ya. I see all of my friends at one point or another pretty much every day. I see Elder Farnsworth, Whitmarsh, Pettingill, Curtis, and Nixon regularly. I also got to see Greg on Sunday! He was up at the temple when we went to do our temple walk so I got to talk to him for about a half hour. He is so excited to go and serve in Peru already (he reports on the 18th to the Mexico MTC).

Do you have a favorite part of the day?  My favorite part of the day is definitely personal study. Just an hour where everything is quiet and still and I don't worry about Khmae and I just read the scriptures and those talks that yall sent to me (thanks for that by the way. All of those talks are killer. I especially loved "But if Not..."

How was being a host for arriving missionaries?  Being a host is so much fun! We were asked to do it again this Wednesday. We're honestly probably going to be asked to do it every wedenesday from now till we leave just because we have so many sisters in our district.

Never see pictures of the sisters in your district.  Do you do much with them outside of the classroom?  Haha I don't know why I don't have more pics of our sisters. Maybe because it's kind of awkward to take pictures of them since they're sisters and we're elders? Haha I don't know. We don't really hang out with the trio (Sisters Matthews, Earl, and Allen) very much because they're always doing their own thing.  Sisters Christensen and Syndergaard usually do their own thing too, but we hang out with Sisters Lindley and Uresk a lot. They're super funny. All of our sisters are way nice and diligent.

What are you doing to break up the monotony?  To break up the monotony? Haha I don't really know. Maybe just stay loose during lunch and stuff, we try to joke around and let off steam when we're not in class or studying. 

How long are you district leader for?  Yesterday I was released as district leader. Elder Zierenberg was called in my place! He is going to be so great, he is such a great elder and always speaks with the power  of the Spirit behind his words. He is definitely going to be a better district leader than me (I would hope). I don't envy him his task though. Being district leader during the middle weeks of the MTC is going to be tough (with motivating everybody) but he is perfectly competent and the Lord will help him out a lot, just like He did with me.

Thank yall so much for your prayers. They can be felt as a tangible force pushing us out of bed and pushing us to class and pushing us in class to study and pushing us to be exactly obedient. The power of prayer is absolutely incredible. I hope Youth Conference goes well! I hope all of y’all have awesome weeks! Let me finish my email with one more thought.

Now that we're in the long haul here in the MTC I can kind of get disheartened sometimes. Whenever I get down or discouraged or kind of irritable I realize that I am not remembering my purpose. Anyone who leaves their family for 2 years for themselves isn't going to be happy. Anyone who studies a gibberish alphabet and language for 10 hours a day for themselves isn't going to be happy. Anyone who goes to a country poorer than dirt for themselves isn't going to be happy. When I'm down and discouraged and wondering what in the world I've gotten myself into, all I have to do is think of the little Cambodian children's faces. And how big their smiles are. And how I want to enable them to smile just like that for eternity . . . This gospel is a gospel of joy. It changes lives. I'm out here for those kids. And for their kids. And for their kids . . . I know with all my heart that the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is real. I know that it is here on the earth and that it will bring those children and their posterities eternal joy. That knowledge is what brings me my joy. Alma 29:9-10 continues to inspire me and to shape my life and my purpose.

9 I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it. I do not glory of myself, but I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me; yea, and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy.

10 And behold, when I see many of my brethren truly penitent, and coming to the Lord their God, then is my soul filled with joy; then do I remember what the Lord has done for me, yea, even that he hath heard my prayer; yea, then do I remember his merciful arm which he extended towards me. (Alma 29:9-10)

I love y'all so much. I'm praying for everybody back home. Have a great week! Have a great birthday Maddie!

Love Elder Neuberger

*Editor’s Note:  The Title of Liberty is from the Book of Mormon and was used by Captain Moroni to rally the people to a remembrance of God.

11 And now it came to pass that when Moroni, who was the chief commander of the armies of the Nephites, had heard of these dissensions, he was angry with Amalickiah.

12 And it came to pass that he rent his coat; and he took a piece thereof, and wrote upon it—In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children—and he fastened it upon the end of a pole.

13 And he fastened on his head-plate, and his breastplate, and his shields, and girded on his armor about his loins; and he took the pole, which had on the end thereof his rent coat, (and he called it the title of liberty) and he bowed himself to the earth, and he prayed mightily unto his God for the blessings of liberty to rest upon his brethren, so long as there should a band of Christians remain to possess the land.  (Alma 46:11-13)

Reuniting with friends from the dorms:  
(l-r) Elder Greg Baker, Elder Mitch Neuberger, Elder Daniel Pettingill, Elder Jacob Elieson, Elder Tim Nixon

 (l-r) Elder Daniel Pettingill, Elder Tim Nixon, Elder Jacob Elieson, Elder Greg Baker, Elder Jake Curtis

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