Monday, August 25, 2014

Baptisms!


Yes! Bong Niro and Bong Viasnaa were both baptized yesterday! It was amazing!  President Moon came up and talked to both of them on Saturday. I think that was such a cool experience for them. President Moon conducts the interviews on his own (how cool is that?!!). He's picked up Khmae since he got here! Not many mission presidents are cool enough to do that! I think Bong Viasnaa and Niro were probably a little bit scared of the 6'5" baarang at first though, haha. And then yesterday they were baptized, along with one of the sisters' investigators Ming Sophiap! So in the past two weeks we've had 4 baptisms in Pochentong, which is amazing because in the last year I think there’s only been 3 or 4 baptisms total in Pochentong. The work is finally progressing here! Elder Johnson and I have another investigator, Lookpuu Mongkol, who is scheduled to be baptized this next Sunday!

At the baptism yesterday, I baptized the sisters' investigator (the lady with one arm)! Bong Niro is right next to her, she was baptized by her husband who is standing next to her. Bong Viasnaa is to the right of Elder Johnson, he was baptized by his future brother-in-law, who is a returned missionary who is in the Pocentong ward as well.

The Spirit was so strong at the baptismal service after church yesterday. So amazing to see three wonderful people enter into the covenant of baptism with their Heavenly Father! I had the amazing opportunity to baptize the sisters' investigator Ming Sophiap! Kind of an unusual first baptism experience because she has only one arm, but it went well (apart from it taking me four times to get the wording correct when I baptized her). You wouldn't believe the number of people here who are missing limbs or have only one working eye and things like that. Did I tell y’all before I came out that Cambodia has the most disabled people (percentage wise) than any other country on earth? It's so sad to see how much physical suffering and trauma all these people have to go through in their lives and the only thing that makes me feel any better about it is when these people come unto Christ and find eternal happiness and peace in his true Church.


Bong Niro and her husband who baptized her

Bong Viasnaa and his fiancĂ© 

Cool things from this week:
I had my first bike accident! Yayyyy! It was on Monday. We were in Chaktomuk (the area of the city near the mission home) biking near Independence Monument, and there was this pothole on the side of the road, probably about a foot and a half across, which Elder Johnson didn't see as he was riding. He hit the edge of it and almost fell but managed to keep pedaling. I on the other hand, plunged right into it! It was full of water so we couldn't have seen how deep it was, but it was at least a foot or two deep. Anyways my front tire went in which caused me to eat it onto the pavement. No worries, no lasting harm done to me. My bike is a little wonky now though (even wonkier than before). Haha now in order to ride straight, I have to turn my handlebars about 20 degrees to the left because the axis of my bike is so far off. Hahaha, this one lookpuu sitting in a tuk-tuk nearby saw the whole thing and was just dying laughing. Haha it was pretty funny I guess.


Elder Johnson and I contacted some guys this week by playing Khmae chess with them. President Moon encourages creativity and free-thinking in missionary work, so why not?

I was also sick for the first time this week! Yeah! We came back to the house for lunch, ate, went upstairs to do language study and after about 5 minutes I started feeling really nauseous so I went to lay down on the bed and after about 20 minutes of laying there I went into the bathroom and threw up pretty much everything I had eaten in the last few days! So much fun! Then I went and laid down for probably another hour and a half till I decided I felt okay enough to go out and proselyte. Still felt sick the rest of the day, and I was super exhausted, but Heavenly Father helped me push through and then blessed me to wake up perfectly fine the next morning. So I’m good now, no harm done!

We went on exchange with the zone leaders this week. I went to Tual Kook with Elder Martinson. It was cool because Elder Martinson was the elder that I proselyted with in the phsaa right after we got off the plane that first day in Cambodia! Cool to see how much I had grown in the last month or so. Tual Kook has the most unreal homes I have ever seen too. Most of the wealthy people in Phnom Penh live there. I kid you not when I say that they are hands down the biggest homes I have ever seen. The word "house" would be completely inappropriate in describing them. The only word I could think of as we kept riding past them was "palace" and I promise you that that word is not an exaggeration in the slightest. Some of these houses had to be over 50,000 sq. ft. . I feel like some of y’all will not believe me, or will think that I am foolish and am overestimating the size of these homes. Doubt all you want, but I will put a personal guarantee on the sizes of these homes. Seriously they are palaces. I have never ever seen anything like the likes of them. Its crazy because people talk all the time about the wealth gap in Mexico. The wealth gap in Mexico is NOTHING compared to Cambodia. Nothing! In Cambodia there are so so so few people at the top, and together they share all of the wealth of the country. Cambodia has to have one of the top 10 steepest wealth pyramids in the world.

This week one of the interesting things I ate was coagulated pigs blood! It was in this curry that the Relief Society made. I thought it was liver at first, and Elder Johnson was just like "Eat it, eat it, eat it!" and so I did and then I was like "liver?" and he was like nope, "coagulated pigs blood". Haha, it actually was really good. I ate all of it. It really doesn't have a strong flavor at all (that might just be because it was in a curry though and everything in a curry tastes like curry). So yeah, now I can say I've eaten quite a bit of pig blood chunks!

Questions:
Do you eat noodles, or is it mainly rice?  Yup, we eat a lot of noodles too. But rice is by far the most common food we eat

What about fish?  Yup eaten fish a few times. Last week we ate at a members home and we had Cambodian sour soup along with this big old fish which they brought out on a platter. I thought it was like a burnt rotten log, but it was actually just a roasted whole fish. How they cook them here is they literally just put the entire fish in the fire, scales, head and all, and then they take it out of the fire when its done and then eat it! It was actually super tasty.

We read in Jake Curtis’ email that he lives on the 22nd floor in his apartment building in Thailand.  Is there even a 22 story building in Cambodia?  Haha wow thats nuts about Jake living on the 22nd floor. There’s a few tall hotels which are probab’ly 20 or thirty stories. There’s only like one skyscraper. I think its called Dragon Tower. Its owned by the Koreans I think (all nice things in Cambodia are either Korean, Thai, or Chinese, not Cambodian). You can see it from all across Phnom Penh. Its pretty sad when you're in just the poorest slum you can imagine, and you look up and in the distance you can see the top of Dragon Tower. Two totally different worlds...

View outside of our window in our Tuk Thlaa house
Elder Johnson and I on the roof of our house in Tuk Thlaa



Do you remember Natalie Haughawout?  She taught your Primary class when you were about 10.  She knows a Vietnamese speaking elder in your mission (she taught him in Primary as well)  Wow that’s super cool about Natalie Haughawout, I totally remember her! I don't think I know that missionary, but I'll probably meet him at some point or another!

That’s pretty much it! Glad y’all had such amazing last weeks of summer! Now back to school! Have fun with that! Middle school and high school are awesome Chloe and Riley, even if y’all think they're lame or hard or boring right now, I promise you'll miss them a ton once you graduate from them. I love all of y’all! I pray for y’all every day! Cumriaplia!

Love Elder Neuberger


Rice fields in the countryside




Crossed out the "imagine that" part of an activity in Preach my Gospel. "You are serving a mission in Asia". Uhhh yeah, Check...



Monday, August 18, 2014

Always biking, always sweating

Hello.  Cumriapsua!  Sok sabbay te?! Happy birthday Mom!!! Happy birthday Riley!!!
On exchange in Saen Sok
This past week was exhausting, but great. On Tuesday I went on an exchange to Saen Sok with Elder Caine. Elder Long came down to Pochentong with Elder Johnson. Elder Johnson's the district leader and so had to conduct an exchange with the other companionship of elders in our district. So for the few people out there who aren't intimately familiar with the layout of northwestern Phnom Penh, Saen Sok is a community about 45 minutes to an hour north of Pochentong. It’s pretty rural, but not in the rice fields sort of sense. Saen Sok is kind of nothing but grass, dust (TONS AND TONS of it) and concrete slabs with little shacks and cows seriously everywhere. It’s not the most scenic place ever and there’s not much there but I loved the opportunity to do a 24 hour exchange up there! It was fun being with Elder Caine, he's super old (he dies in November), super tall, and super funny. He was born in South Africa but moved to Mauritius when he was 8 and has been there ever since. His accent is super cool haha. For dinner we bought a whole roasted chicken, head, feet and all. We were going to have rice with it but when Elder Caine opened the door to the kitchen a couple rats ran off along the counter so he shut the door and was like "well it looks like we won't be having rice" and it turned out that the plates and the silverware were still dirty in the kitchen too. So Elder Caine turns to me and goes "Have you ever eaten chicken with Khmaes?" I was like "um no..." and then he turned to the chicken and immediately tore off a huge chunk with his hands and started eating it. Well I was super duper hungry so I proceeded to do the same. So that was my dinner Tuesday night, just a plain whole roasted chicken eaten with my bare hands. Haha it was fun, although the chicken was bland and the whole feet and head thing kind of freaked me out. Felt really good to wash my hands afterwards...


Elder Johnson, me, Elder Caine

Elder Caine getting "doped".  To "dope" means "to ride on the back of".  Although I looked up the dictionary definition of it this week and it means "to appear to be glued on, as in riding".  So that's pretty cool.

Our beds when I was on exchange in Saen Sok

It felt really good to be reunited with Elder Johnson on Wednesday. The exchange was fun and I learned a lot but at the same time I was just like "This isn't my companion... This isn't my area... This feels kind of weird..." So it was nice to go back home to Pochentong and get back into our normal routine of things there.

Our normal routine of things was quick to be disrupted when we found out this week that we would indeed be moving to Tuk Thlaa (we had been hearing rumors that we would be moving houses for a few weeks). The AP called us and informed us we would be moving Monday (which is today). So yesterday we packed up all of our stuff and cleaned the entire house, because the house is being closed down by the mission. So we had to dig through tons and tons and tons of old documents, area books, former investigators books, pamphlets, liahonas, and other stuff like that to see what we needed to carry over to Tuk Thlaa and what we could just throw away. All of that took like 8 hours yesterday. I hope I never have to close a house again, it’s not fun at all. So this morning Elder Johnson and I took 2 tuk tuk trips with all our stuff over to our new house. Again, for those of y’all who fell asleep during the North Phnom Penh geography unit in Texas history class or algebra or whenever they teach that unit, Tuk Thlaa is the area immediately east of Pochentong. It’s about a 15 minute bike ride from our old house. It adds a lot more biking to our days, which is no fun, because we already bike more than almost anybody else in the city, because the Pochentong area is enormous. Elder Johnson and I already book it on our bikes all day everyday in order to make it to appointments or make it back to our house on time, and now I guess we'll just have to book it faster. Haha I don't know how, but somehow we'll manage. It’s ok, I know that President Moon has a good reason for it, although I'm not necessarily aware of that reason just yet. In the Tuk Thlaa house there is another companionship, Elder McGavin and Elder Tii. Elder McGavin is hilarious, so that'll be fun. Elder Christensen and Elder Yorgeson also live in that house, but they're moving to a new house later this afternoon, so it'll just be us and then Elder McGavin and Tii. The house is a lot dirtier and a lot bigger than our house in Pochentong. It also has rats from time to time. Haha Elder Christensen said that on his first night in the country (which was my first night too) Elder Yorgeson clubbed a rat the size of a cat with this big walking stick. So that'll be fun, really looking forward to rat hunts...

Our study area in our old house.
 Front room of our old house in Pochentong.  It's where we eat and also where my closet is! (well, was . . .)

Bathroom in our old house.  Stays clean because the entire room becomes the shower. 

Our bedroom in Pochentong

This past week we had a ton of people cancel on us, which was irritating and discouraging, but it just happens like that sometimes. The problem with such an extremely poor country like Cambodia is that even though most people are super humble and prepared for the gospel, they simply don't have enough time to meet with us. Like everyone we contact is like "yeah I really want to learn more, but I'm rovuel" ("busy". I seriously hate the word "rovuel" with a burning passion. Least favorite word in Khmae. I have to hear that word 30 times a day at least. "khnyom tumnay rohoot" is my favorite phrase. It means "I'm always free".) Most people have to work all day, every day. If they don't work one day, then their family doesn't get to eat that day. Thats just how it is. There's a phrase that a lot of people use to describe living day-to-day like that. It’s "roke sii". It means "searching to eat". Usually Elder Johnson and I can convince people to set aside time though. We are very persistent when we contact haha. I'll talk to someone about Christ, see if they're interested and prepared, and when they're like "oh I'm busy all the time" I'm like "oh ok, so which day are you free?" and then they're like "Oh I work every single day" and then I'm like "ok, well most of the time, what hour do you have free time?" and then they're like "ohhh I'm always busy, no free time" and then I'm like "ok well what hour do you stop work at?" and then they're like" Oh around 5"and then I'm like "great! So you and your family are free at 5! Can we come by tomorrow and teach?" and then they're usually like "Well, yeah I guess". Haha that’s like every single contact. I'm like, ok, why does it take 5 questions to determine that you actually do have free time every single day? It's really sad when people refuse to meet with us because they say they're always working. Please understand, I am very aware that these people have to work a ton to feed their family, but all we want is to meet with them for like half an hour once a week! I realize that feeding your family in this life is important but they just don't get that what we are teaching will benefit them and "feed their family" forever! FOREVERRR!. Think about how long that is! Elder Johnson and I try to convey that our message benefits people eternally, but they just refuse to wrap their minds around it a lot of the time. We're like "Please, just listen!! Please! We want you and your family to live with each other and with God for eternity! We're just asking for like half an hour. Just give us one shot. After the first lesson you can decide whether you still want to learn with us or not." and some people are still like no, I'm busy, and then walk away. It’s sad. I don't know what else I can do for people like that.

Language keeps progressing, the most noticeable difference in my language abilities since I came is my comprehension. My vocab has shot up too though, and so has my somleeng (pronunciation). In my word book I have now written down over 450 words in the last 3 weeks and I know almost every single one of them now! I've really been working on my pronunciation of just the consonants. I really want to come out of my training being able to say all of them very, very clearly. The vowels are a whole other beast. The vowels you work on for your whole mission, and even then you may not have them perfectly. Haha all the sounds are so so similar and there is really no way to describe the difference between them to y’all. I love that I think almost a hundred percent of the time in script now. I really started trying to do that in the MTC and now it's almost automatic. In order to really think and speak in Khmae you have to have your thoughts in the script. So that’s something that has become second nature almost for me now. Once again, I could not even say "hello how are you?" if it wasn't for divine assistance. It is so incredibly real.

Let me answer y’all’s questions:
Have you received any of the postal mail we’ve sent?  Still haven’t gotten the mail. I'm hoping that it’s there today at the mission home, fingers crossed!

Anything you need that you can’t get there?  Umm, well snack food would be nice I guess, but it’s really not a big deal. I like having to limit myself to 3 meals a day. I feel like it’s healthier and I feel like more of a grown up, haha. When y’all send a package for Christmas or something I wouldn't be opposed to some snack food being in there though...

Have you tried durian fruit yet?  I have not had durian yet. Nor have I had baby duck eggs. Elder Caine said that he eats them all the time (it’s because his companion is a Khmae). Pretty much everyone says that they're not great but that they're THAT bad.

Inside of a dragonfruit

Does your bike travel with you throughout your mission, or do you leave it with the apartment? Your bike travels with you if you stay in the same city when you're transferred. When you move to a different khaet or when you move back to the city you just leave your bike there and get a new one in your new area.

Are you as tired as last week, or are you getting used to it?   I'm more tired. I'm gradually getting used to it. I'm doing a lot better than I was my first week. Everyone says that the first 6 months is super tiring and exhausting though, so I've just gotta keep trudging along.

Does it rain every day, and is it just single downpours or all day events?  Ya it’s rained pretty much every single day. We actually had a stretch of like 5 days in a row this week where it didn't rain and it got crazy hot and dusty. It typically pours for like half an hour to an hour every afternoon. On Saturday it rained soooo hard. It was insane.

Cambodian storm a'brewin'


After the daily storm
How are your shoes working out?  Are they constantly covered in mud?  Do they dry out?  My shoes are doing good. I use one pair for proselyting and one pair for going to church and stuff like that. They're super, super dirty. They dry out pretty good I guess. My socks are doing good, no complaints.

Do you come home covered in mud and grime? Ya. I come home every single day covered in mud and sweat and slime and dust. Super fun. When we stop after a long bike ride, especially if we were biking on Phlov Deihoy, we'll stop and my face will be covered in mud. It’s from the copious amounts of sweat and dust. Haha, it’s gross.

Me after the hour bike ride to Saen Sok.  We rode all the way on the dustiest road in Cambodia, Phlov Deihoy (that literally means "dusty road").  When we ride bikes into the city or pretty much anywhere, we wear masks to keep out the dust, moto fumes, and pollution.  I didn't wear a mask for the first few weeks though, haha, it was gross.  But now I do!  Trying to be healthy.  I also don't know if you can tell but my shirt and slacks are completely soaked with sweat in this pic.  It was BAKING.  We had to ride up there to do a baptismal  interview.

Do you drink water bottles all day long?  Yup we drink tons of water.

My handy-dandy water bottle.  It's pretty cool.  Sister Moon gave em to us when we first came.
I was told that instead of gas stations, people sell gas in bottles at the side of the road.  Have you seen that?  Ya.  There are millions of those little "gas station" things. People put these little half liter glass bottles full of gasoline on these stands and then motos pull up and the owner of the gas grabs a funnel and empties the bottle into the moto. I didn't know what the liquid was for my first couple weeks. I thought it was some weird drink or maybe like some weird urine-medicinal thing. Haha, but then I asked Elder Johnson and he was like "it’s gas elder."

How were the baptisms?  Both of our baptisms this week are actually pushed back to next week. Had some complications. They'll be baptized next week though! One of the sisters' investigators was baptized yesterday though! It was so neat!


a lady the sister missionaries taught, Elder Johnson, me

Do you sleep in a hammock, I read on someone’s blog that elders sometimes do.  Haha no we sleep on foam pads, which are on these "beds". The beds are just like a few weak wood slats on a bed frame. Really creaky, not a ton of support, but we're so tired we just crash.

Killed any rats yet?  haven't had to kill any rats in my house yet, but now that I’m in the Tuk Thlaa house I'll probably have to kill one at one point or another.

Thanks for not forgetting to email me and stuff. I have this paranoia every Sunday night that when I log onto my email the next morning my entire family will have forgotten to email me. Haha. Thanks for putting lots of details into y’alls emails, I like hearing what y’alls lives are like back home. Make sure to keep doing that. I love y’all, have great weeks!

Paddy-marsh sort of thing.  This is what Cambodia looks like naturally in a lot of places 

Places in our area outside the city look like this. 




Got my visa extension!  When we came to Cambodia we all had 3 month business visas.  They want to make sure you're serious about staying before they give you the big one.  Looks like I won't get kicked out now till at least next August. 

We all happened to wear the same tie that day by coincidence.  The other elder is Elder Long.  He's in Saen Sok.

My collection of Khmae ties so far.  Pretty cool. 

Picture from our living room in Pochentong. 

"Baay sac jruuk"  aka my breakfast this morning.  Yummmm!

We use this pamphlet a lot, especially with less-active members.  It is called "My Family".  It's the church's new family history thing.  Y'all should use it back home if y'all aren't already.  And y'all should fill them out for yourselves as well!!  Seriously!! [Editors note:  Aren't new elders cute!  Fun to see them experience the gospel in a whole new light.  Everything is new]


Monday, August 11, 2014

Another amazing week in Pochentong

Hey! Good to hear from y’all! I'm glad y’all are having fun now that y’all are back in San Antonio! I never liked that transition after vacation though. Haha never fun having to return back to reality.

That’s sad about Papa. I continue to pray for the Lord to take him home. Hopefully none of us will have to see him in this state for much longer. It’s really sad, but that’s how life goes. Although, I don't feel sad thinking about him passing away soon. I only feel hope and love for him. Isn't that going to be an amazing experience for him?! Released from the weaknesses of his mortal body and entering into a state of peace where he can help prepare other souls for the resurrection. How neat! What a perfect plan our Heavenly Father has!

Haha, that dress code thing at USAA is weird. Glad you're sticking to pants Dad. Sometimes I think the world is becoming too casual (can a teenager say that? Is that allowed? If not, then I'm really sorry). It’s been so weird out here on the mission how my clothing perspective has changed. What is "casual" for me now are dress slacks, and a short-sleeve collared shirt and a tie. That is what "casual" means to me. Last week when we were playing soccer I felt weird being in public in basketball shorts and a t-shirt. I was like "what am I doing? I'm not dressed at all! This is terrible!".

Ohhh man! I crave breakfast tacos. Whewww!  Gotta stop thinking about them... The breakfast food here is just as delicious though! The typical Khmae breakfast is baay saec jruuk, or "rice and pork". It’s ridiculously good and it’s everywhere. It's basically seasoned strips of grilled pork, rice, and a fried egg. Super, super good. And you also usually get a bag of soup along with it! Yes all soup comes in bags here. They close the top of it with a rubber band which is almost impossible to take off sometimes because they twist it so good. Haha, I heard Elder Whitney, one of the elders in my zone, call it a "ming twist" the other day during our monthly zone training meeting. (A ming, or neakming, is a woman who is like an aunt younger than your parents, although the term is a little more general. So any woman between like 35 and 55ish I would call neakming. The term is relative to the person though. A neakming for you, mom and dad, would be someone between like 55 and 70ish.) Anyway I was laughing super hard at that phrase "ming twist". Haha, I have a feeling y’all won't find it as funny.

Wow, the Spurs hired Becky Hammon! Crazy! She’s a legend in the WNBA, but that is super interesting that Greg Poppovich would hire her for his assistant coach in the NBA! I wonder how that dynamic will work. That’s extremely cool though. Gregg Poppovich will seriously hire anyone, player or coach, that he thinks will contribute to the team being a championship contender. He doesn't care about your attributes or history, just your skill set. Viva los Spurs!

Swimming and dinner at Megan and Adams sounded like fun! Good old family barbeques. And Honey and Grandpa just got back from their Nauvoo pageant trip!

Have fun going back to work mom! I think it'll be really weird in December once Chloe starts driving because then you'll have two kids out of the house and one more kid at the house that can drive herself and Riley around. I bet you probably don't miss the good ole days of crisscrossing across all of San Antonio ten times a day to take us to all of our activities. We appreciated it though!

That’s cool that Brooke is going through the temple Saturday! Woohoo! Tell her good luck! (for her mission, not for the temple, haha). It's weird thinking about how long I've been out so far, then thinking that sisters who are leaving right now, like Brooke, still come home from their missions like 3 months before me. 

This week was super tiring. I struggled with just deep, deep exhaustion for a large portion of the week. It’s just so much to handle and adjust to! Not to mention that we ride our bikes miles and miles and miles in the hot sun over roads filled with craters (calling them potholes does them no justice). Whew, it’s rough. Elder Johnson and I are just planning on relaxing today. We decided to go to Tuol Slaeng next week. We still have to ride over to the mission home though and that is no small trip.  Look at a map of Phnom Penh to see how far we ride. Draw a direct east to west line from the airport to the Mekong and that’s the trip we make every Monday. (It’s honestly not that bad, I just like to complain about it). 

This week I had coconut water straight from a cold coconut for the first time! They just lop off the top part of it till there’s a hole about the size of a quarter and then they stick a straw in and you drink it straight out! It was sooo good. It was really cold and it tasted kind of like lemon-lime PowerAde almost, if you reduced the flavor and made it sweeter. It was so good, especially because it was like 7:45 at night when we had them and we were pouring sweat.

Have I told you that since I came to Cambodia I've eaten more fruits that I don’t' recognize than fruits that I do? I seriously couldn't tell you the names of 95% percent of the fruits and vegetables here. They're all so alien, but sooo good. A lot of the fruits look very different on the outside, but look the same on the inside. A lot of them have clear translucent flesh on the inside. Really cool looking.


One of the many types of strange fruits.  This is rambutan.  The center part you eat is sweet and delicious.

I also had my first experience with Buddhist monks! Elder Johnson and I were trying to visit the completely inactive son of one of the less-actives we teach, and there were two monks walking down the railroad in our direction, collecting funds for the school at their wat. They came up to us and asked us what we were doing, and we explained that we were missionaries trying to meet with a member of our congregation. They were so nice. It was an extremely respectful conversation: we were very respectful of them and they were very respectful of us. We talked to them for probably about 5 minutes and then one of them asked us for our phone number! While he took it down the other monk (both of them were about 30, by the way) was like yeah, come to our wat anytime! We would love to sit and talk with y’all! Elder Johnson and I were like “sweet, we don't have a ton of free time but maybe one day we'll try and come by!” Haha then just a couple hours later the monks called us and were like "hey do y’all want to come over to the wat for lunch?" We were like "ohh we're sorry we're busy (which we were), but thank you!" So that was cool.

Elder Johnson and I also had a sobering experience as we were teaching one of our brand new investigators which we contacted earlier this week. We had had to move his lesson to the next day because he was at the hospital for one of his relatives who had been in a bad moto accident (moto accidents are really common here, resulting in a lot of handicapped people). When we met with him the next day he told us that his aunt had passed away from her injuries. Elder Johnson and I realized that we had met this woman! We carried these big 20 kilo bags for her into her home! I guess later that day she died in a moto accident. Wow... It was a very spiritual lesson that we got to teach our investigator though, because our lesson happened to be the Plan of Salvation. It was amazing how strong the Spirit was. That investigator, Bong Maec, is awesome. He is maybe the most spiritually prepared person I've met out here so far.

Me, Bong Viasnaa and his fiance Bong Volai (who is a member).  They're the greatest.  Super funny and super nice.

So this next Sunday two of our investigators will be baptized! Bong Niro and Bong Viasnaa! They're both amazing investigators, very eager to keep the commitments we give them. I'm excited for both of them to be baptized and confirmed, then prepare to go to the temple with their respective families a year from now (hopefully). The church helps a TON here with trying to help people go to the temple here. The members still have to save a lot of money to go though, so it’s a very big sacrifice and requires sometimes years of diligent saving in order to go.  The closest temple is in Hong Kong. The members here talk all the time about the day that they will have a temple here in Cambodia. Elder Johnson and I were talking to the bishop's wife, Bong Navi, yesterday and she told us that she already learned English and is now working on learning both Thai and Vietnamese, in order to help as much as possible once they get a temple here. She said that she and the bishop are planning on working as much as possible in the temple. Woah!!! The members here truly exemplify what it means to be a latter-day SAINT.

Ok, answers to y’alls questions:
Has your companion been sick since he has been in Cambodia?  No. Elder Johnson has never been seriously ill here. He's had companions that have been though

Do you live in a free standing house, or in an apartment?  We live in a town house. Two stories. I'll take some pictures of it this week for y’all

Do you attend church in one of the more recently built buildings that we’ve seen pictures of, or are you in an older building converted to a chapel?  We attend church in the bottom floor of a building owned by a member (although that member is totally inactive). I go to the North Stake Center once a week for district meeting though (that’s one of the ones you’ve seen pictures of. It's super nice).

What time does Church start on Sundays?  My church is at 8 in the morning.  That sounds early, but I wake up at 5:30 every morning.  Plus Cambodians wake up super early.

Do the youth in the ward have Mutual (midweek activities)?  The youth do have Mutual, although there are not that many youth in our ward and it is a little unorganized.  Me and the other missionaries in my ward have been helping them with it.  We tell them about things we did in America that we liked.  

Where do you send email from?  I email from an internet cafe. It costs 2000 riel an hour, or about 50 cents

When you email the mission president is there a certain format, or just freeform? The weekly letter to President Moon is just free form. Nothing complicated. I usually just tell him in a paragraph or two how I'm doing and how the work is progressing in Pochentong.

Have you had your first zone conference with the mission president?  I have not had a zone conference yet.

In a couple of your letters you have alluded to Pochentong being one of the hardest areas in the mission.  What makes it so hard?  I’m sure the poverty is similar to other areas. Pochentong is known as a hard area just because it’s the smallest ward in the North stake, so it’s hard to have a lot of member help and involvement.  Also just because for whatever reason, in the past elders have struggled finding people here to teach. Elder Johnson and I are opening our mouths to everyone we see though, and the Lord is blessing us by helping us find many people to teach.

That's all I've got! The church and gospel are true! I love y’all, God bless!

Love,  Elder Neuberger


Looktaa Sae and his son Kung (who is deaf).  We go and read with them from the Book of Mormon quite a bit.  Looktaa Sae is one of the most active members in Pochentong and has been for years and years.  He and Kung got to go to the temple the week that I arrived in Cambodia.  There he was sealed to his wife who passed away a few years ago. He's amazing.

Meeting with our ward missionaries and the Sisters in our ward.

Earlier this week, while me and Elder Johnson were doing "The First Twelve Weeks" training program for new missionaries, we were watching certain clips from The District.  I was like, "oh hey, look, that's my mom!"  Haha, almost felt like she was here in Pochentong with us.  [Editor's note:  The District was filmed in our ward in San Antonio several years ago]
In the distance is a wat across from this swamp, wetland, rice field thing that we ride past pretty frequently.
My Book of Mormon reading.  I mark all the words I don't know.  Haha, the Book of Mormon has so many hard words, it's ridiculous.

Seriously, everything in Cambodia has Angkor Wat on it.  Even our spoons!  They are so proud of their heritage, and they should be.  They used to be the most advanced civilization in the world.

Bong Viasnaa's nephew . . . I think.  I'm not entirely sure of his relation.

These are some scenes from the market . . . aka the grocery store.



More pig heads.  Mmmmm