Monday, July 28, 2014

Learning How to Sacrifice

It's crazy that I'm writing y'all right now and it's only been a week since I last emailed y'all. It feels, I kid you not, like maybe 2 or 3 months have passed. So much goes on.  Every second of every day is a new experience for me, and I don't know how to summarize it all for y'all. It's so difficult and honestly kind of stressful trying to write y'all emails haha. I have to remember everything I want to say and it's just really hard. I love reading y'all's emails, it's writing them that stresses me out!

This week was just another crazy week in Cambodia! Full of some great times! The rats here are enormous, bigger than some of the dogs here. Ughhhh, I still haven't gotten over my fear. They give me the chills so bad everytime I see or hear one. My heart rate goes up so fast and I stop breathing. On Saturday we taught a lesson in this shack that was INFESTED with rats. I wanted to die right there. I saw them running along the rafters and I could hear them all around me. After the lesson I asked Elder Johnson if he could see the rats behind me. He was like "yeah did you not see those ones?! They were running all around not even two feet from the back of you!" Good thing he told me that after the lesson. I'm grateful that the only rats I saw were like 10 ft away from me. If I had seen all those ones within arms reach... I don't even know... I would have cried in the middle of the lesson or something... Whew, what a Saturday night...

Other crazy things I've seen include a burning body on the side of the road, only 5 ft away from my bike when I passed it! They were having a funeral. Just another day in Pochentong.
So people here in Cambodia hit their kids a lot. Like a ton. It's not like they're slugging them, I mean its not like they're hitting them like you see the drunks do in the movies. It's more like they slap them really hard on the arm or the back. So that took some getting used to. They also kick their dogs in the face. Dogs aren't held in super high esteem here. Like they all have them, but they're not "mans best friend" here like in America. So that was pretty crazy the first couple times too. 

I don't know if I ever told y'all but in Phnom Penhh they don't speak Khmae at all like I was taught. They speak something which is called "cut language". They basically don't say all of the syllables that they don't have to. So they cut out a ton of grammar words and a ton of the middle-sections of words and they speak super fast so I have no idea whats going on most of the time. Its crazy. I'm starting to pick up on it a little but its so hard. Sometimes I wish I was out in the provinces (khaets) where I hear they speak very clearly, but I know that if I try with all my might I'll have a steep learning curve in Phnom Penh. Its hard, but I think I'll learn a ton here if I really put my mind to it! My main difficulty with the language is not zoning out and continuing to try and concentrate when people are speaking. It's so easy just to zone out sometimes, because it's all gibberish and sometimes they speak for a long time, but I really try to constantly focus and pick up on things I know. I have this notebook where I write down every word I don't know, so needless to say I write in that notebook all day everyday for the most part! Then at the end of the day I look those words up in the dictionary or ask Elder Johnson. It helps a lot. It increases my vocabulary and also helps me listen better (pick up all the sounds as people say them). The members also think it's really funny to speak super fast to me and then see the look on my face. When they see that look they laugh hard and then say the same thing but just faster and more emphatically. But they're really nice after and compliment my Khmae (not because my Khmaes good, but just cause they're trying to make me feel better I think).

Khmae food is so delicious. It has a ton of pork, a ton of garlic,a ton of vegetables, and a ton of peppers and stuff like that. I love it. It is so dang good. Chaa kreung is probably my favorite dish. Its this pork dish with a ton of ingredients in it (kreung means ingredient). Its delicious.

If I've learned anything about humans these last two weeks, its that no matter where we live or what our circumstances are, we're all still human! The Khmaes are hilarious! President Lom Ang in our ward (he's the second counselor in the North Stake Presidency) is super funny. He's only like 30 too. This other woman in our ward Bong Kun tii is hilarious too. We teach her brother Bong Makara a lot. He's a recent convert who comes to church probably 2 or 3 times a month. He's a great guy.

So pretty much every time we ride our bikes past a group of people we can always hear the word "bawrang" being said behind us. Haha. It means "Frenchman". Its what they call all the white people. We hear it a lot in Pochentong, because Pochentong is not a touristy part of Phnom Penh at all, so we're pretty much the only non-Cambodian people here.

By the way, there are some HUGE houses in Pochentong. Like enormous. Me and Elder Johnson have ridden past some houses this week while contacting in different areas and I'm just like "that house is bigger than even like Dominion or Anaqua Springs homes!" I have absolutely no idea what those people do for work. 

So I've ran for my life from like 3 crazy big mean dogs now. I feel like I'm always in the worst places too when a dog starts chasing me, wanting to bite my leg off. I'm always on a flooded super muddy road or something and I'll slip off my bike or get stuck in mud everytime in my frantic escape from the dogs. It really gets your heartrate going. The Khmaes will watch me from their hammocks and they just laugh and laugh. They think its so funny to see a bawrang stuck in mud or falling off his bike as he runs for his life from a ticked off dog.

So yeah, I'm pretty sure that theres more stray dogs than people in Pochentong. There are so many, its insane. They're EVERYWHERE. Most of them are pretty docile though, they just keep to themselves and dig through all the trashpiles, which are also everywhere.

To answer your questions:
- How many lessons do you teach a week?  We teach about 20 lessons a week. Thats really good for Pocentong. Its a pretty difficult area right now

Do you knock doors or contact people on the street?  We contact on the street. Haha and they don't have doors here. Like seriously. Unless you live in a nice house they really don't have doors.

- Do you teach English classes? Yes.  We teach English every Wednesday night for an hour and then give a gospel message for half an hour (in English). Thats a mission wide thing. English Wednesday nights

- Do you play the piano?  Yes. I'm the ward pianist

- How much did you have to pay for your bike?  Ya, so the mission has bikes. They were at the mission home. They're all pretty old. What they do is have you pay 75 dollars to use the mission bikes and thats just a flat fee. Then if you have to get a new bike because yours fell apart or if yours gets stolen I think you only have to pay like 5 bucks to take another bike.

Do you buy a meal or two out each day, or do you try to eat in the apartment?  We eat out maybe like 4 times a week. We eat out for all our meals on pday.

- Do you and Elder Johnson have a lot in common?  Ya me and Elder Johnson have a lot in common! We both like a lot of the same stuff from home. Its fun

- How do you say "Neuberger" in Khmae? I can't really convey it in this alphabet. The closet I can get is "nuh-buh-guh". You can hear what it sounds like at Christmas when you talk to me.

- What street do you live on?  I will try to Google Earth it.  haha we don't have an address. This is Cambodia!

- How long will you be with Elder Johnson?  Actually you do training for 2 transfers, so I'll be with Elder Johnson for 10 more weeks. and then he'll most likely be transferred and I'll stay in Pochentong for another 6-12 weeks after that!

I hope yall have tons of fun in Florida. Take lots of pictures for me! I love yall so much! Sorry I don't have time to say more! Just know that I really am giving my all out here! The phrase from the song Praise to the Man -- "Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven" -- is what I tell myself in the tough times here. I'm really striving to only think of the Khmae people and of my Savior and not think about myself at all. Its really nice not worrying about myself. I like it. Its a nice change of pace. I love yall, have fun!

Elder Neuberger

Me and the Hmong Elders in the MTC.  Elder Pace on the right knows the Neubergers in South Carolina!  I love the Hmongs, they're great!  Serving in Minneapolis and Fresno.

 Me in the airport after calling y'all.  Our flight was all Asian, mainly Cantonese.

Pic of Phnom Penh driving from the airport 

My luggage in the tuk tuk heading over to our house in Pochentong. 

Me and Elder Elieson seconds before we left the misson home.  He's being trained in Kampung Cham. 

Railroad where we proselyte a lot.  We teach a bunch of people in this area. 

 Homes near the railroad.

 Elder Johnson, owpuk khnyom (my dad).  I'm his kon (child).  There's a lot of weird missionary slang here in Cambodia.  Haha

A map of our area in Pochentong. 

A pic of a more rural part of our area.  It gets even more rural than this!  We have parts with just straight rice fields and cows and farmers! 

Elder Johnson in our kitchen. 

The views from some of the homes are amazing.  The contrast  between the foreground and the background is crazy in this pic.  That's a wat.  They are everywhere. 

A slum puppy that came up to me and Elder Johnson before a lesson. 

A street in the middle of our area. 

A little girl in our ward.  Her parents are hilarious. 

Young men in our ward performing a traditional Khmae dance at the Pioneer Day party on Saturday. 

Another pic of the dance. 

The son of a less active family we work with. 

 Some young men at our Pioneer Day party.  They aren't from our ward.  They are from Saen Sokh.

 A pic of one of our investigators, Bong Viasnaa. He's the Man!  He really wants to learn and follows our commitments, event the tough ones, super well.

The youth doing a western jig.  Haha.  It was so funny when they came out in their pioneer clothes. 

Our bishop, Bishop Daen.  He's hilarious.

Bishop Daen

I've been here a week and a half and the watch tan is already there.  It will probably be permanent after the next two years.

The meat section of the phsaa right next to our house that we go to.

Half a  pig a the meat market.  Its heart was still beating.  That's how fresh all the food at the market is.

The phsaa right next to our house.  If you want to know what a Cambodian phsaa is, imagine an eastern market in a children's movie like Aladdin or Mulan or something.  That's exactly what they're like.

Dragonfruit.  Its so dang good!  It is kind of like kiwi, but more exotic and cooler.  For 2 kilos it was just $1.25.

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