Monday, September 22, 2014

A Lesson on the Alphabet

She gave us a "high five" after I took this pic

Hi everyone! What a week its been for everyone huh?

Y’alls emails about Papa were very touching. I was sitting here in the email cafe crying uncontrollably. Haha, not the ideal place to read about all the tender mercies that the Lord bestowed upon our family this week, but it was amazing reading about y’alls experiences nonetheless. It's amazing how the Lord comforts us through the little things.

I'm sure many of y’all, like me, have felt your testimonies of the Plan of Salvation increase tenfold this past week! The Holy Ghost has been giving me constant reassurement and peace in my heart, to the extent that I haven't felt any lasting grief. Of course I will miss Papa, but this life is nothing but a blink of an eye! If we all will pattern our lives after the Savior, just like Papa did, then we have the assurance that we will live with our families forever, blessed with eternal and infinite happiness! And not only will we get to live together forever, but we will get to live together forever in the presence of our Heavenly Father! Isn't the Gospel amazing? It is so amazing and awe-inspiring because it is true! I know that it is true and I testify that the blessings of eternity can be ours forever if we will just yield our hearts and will to Christ and follow in His footsteps! How amazing is it to be a missionary! I get to testify to people of that truth EVERY SINGLE DAY! What a blessing! Once we learn for ourselves about the truthfulness of the Gospel, our desire to share it is insatiable! I feel just like the sons of Mosiah, who couldn't stand for one of their spirit brothers or sisters here on the earth to not hear about the gospel!

Nothing really interesting this week happened with regard to proselyting. We are right in the middle of Pchum Ben, that ancestor festival I talked about last week, so literally EVERY SINGLE PERSON in Phnom Penh is gone. Phnom Penh is a ghost town. It's so eerie. It almost feels like I'm in a post-apocalyptic movie. Having nobody here makes proselyting super, super hard. Elder Johnson and I taught just 7 lessons this past week. We usually teach around 20. So it's been really tough. We've been looking for a lot of opportunities to do service and stuff like that though. Doing service in Cambodia usually consists of moving piles of brick shards and stuff.

Oh here's a fun story from this week! Elder Johnson, me, Sister Hartley, and Sister Uresk were helping move dirt (although it was mostly rocks and chunks of brick) from the side of the newly built house of a member out to the front of it, because the workers had left like a 4 foot drop from the front door to the ground, so we had to help them build up a ramp. So we were hacking away at these piles with hoes, and during the time we were helping dig and carry this dirt/brick stuff, 3 ENORMOUS black Cambodian rats and a snake all shot out from under the house at separate times. Like we would be hacking away at the piles and right underneath my foot would be a gap between the ground and the foundation of the house and a huge rat would dart out from it. That happened three times, with three separate monster rats. Y’all can literally not comprehend how big they are. Cambodian mice are bigger than American rats, and Cambodian rats are bigger than most American dogs. Whew they sent my heart rate up way high every time they would leap out from under the house! They would jump about as high as my chest in order to get past us into the swamp/pond thing which the house bordered. The snake wasn't that bad. It was under a log we moved, and then it just slithered off. Snakes haven't really ever freaked me out at all. Nor have spiders. Which is good because if I was scared of rats AND snakes AND spiders I would have been sent home for anxiety attacks months ago. 

Since this week doesn't really have any interesting stories for the most part (it was reallyyy dull at times), I decided I should tell yall a little about Khmae! I realized I really haven't told y’all a lot about the language I speak all day every day so here's some neat little tidbits for y’all:

-The Khmae alphabet is the largest alphabet in the world. It is made up of consonants, sub-consonants, vowels, independent vowels and didactic marks. Every consonant has an inherent vowel sound within it, so there are two different types of consonants: those with an inherent "aw" sound, which pretty much sounds like the sound at the beginning of the word "awesome", and then there is consonants with an inherent "o" sound, which pretty much sounds like an English "o", but you say it deeper and more from your throat. So for example here is two letters: "khaw" and "khoo". Both have the same basic sound at the beginning, the "k" sound like in "kangaroo" or "kite", but their inherent vowel sound is different. So out of the 33 consonants, 15 have an inherent "aw" sound, and 18 have an inherent "o" like sound. Following me so far?

-So a sub-consonant, has the same exact function as a consonant, except you use them when a consonant diphthong occurs, which is a fancy way of saying two consonants in a row. In English we have the same thing. Think about the word "break". You have the consonants "b" and "r" right next to each other, which together combine to make the sound "br". That’s a consonant diphthong. So in Khmae when two consonants are in a row you have the first consonant, which uses its main character, and then the second consonant in a series takes its sub-consonant form. The sub-consonant sits either on the bottom, left or right of the first consonant in the diphthong. The main consonant drops its inherent sound and the consonant sounds are combined. So like take the word "preah" which means God. It has the consonant "po" and the sub-consonant "roo". "Po" drops its "o" sound and combines with "roo" ("roo" by the way is like a rolled r, like in Spanish). Combine that with the vowel "ah" which has the form "eah" when used with "oo" consonants, and you get the word "preah". This is without me even going into "weak consonants". Some of the consonants are considered "weak" and their inherent vowel sound changes to match of that of the nearest preceding "strong consonant".

a pic explaining the word "preah"

-This takes us to vowels! Khmae has 20-different vowel symbols. Each symbol has two different sounds, depending on whether the vowel is altering the inherent vowel sound of an "aw" or "oo" consonant. So really there's like 40 something-ish vowel sounds in Khmae, many of which sound almost exactly the same to the untrained ear, but to Khmaes they're completely different and distinguishable. Vowels can go on top, bottom, left, or right of the main consonant, depending on which vowel it is. Every sub-consonant and vowel always goes in a specific spot depending on which sub-consonant or vowel it is. So for instance, the sub-consonant "roo" always goes on the left of the main consonant, and the vowel "ah" (which has the sound "eah" when being used with "oo" consonants) always goes on the right.

Bless their hearts. They try so hard. Sometimes it just doesn't work out though when they try to translate

-I'm not going to go into independent vowels or didactic marks. Like it's not even worth it. Haha I'm not even going to try. Just know that they exist and they're used and that they're annoying and difficult

So yeah that’s a basic outline of the alphabet! I'll email y’all about cool grammar stuff next week and kind of how the basic structure of the language works. Khmae seriously is the coolest language on the face of the planet. I hope the email this week didn't bore all of y’all to death. I love and miss all of y’all! The Plan of Salvation is real, Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ both live, the Atonement is infinite, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true church of God here on the earth. I testify of all this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen!

Love Elder Neuberger

The District.  Elder Caine's head got chopped off. That's the price he pays for being tall. (from left to right:  me, Elder Johnson, Sister Hartley, Sister Uresk, Elder Caine, Elder Long)

Cambodian sunsets are literally impossible to catch on camera. It is so frustrating trying to get them on picture because the picture never shows what they really look like. I hate looking in my camera afterwards and being like "Ughhhh thats a pretty picture and all but that's nothing what it actually looks like!"

The sky here looks like a painting.

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