BYUUUUUUUU!!!!!! Yeah!!!! Lets goooo! Even though we beat them worse than we beat them last year, nothing will ever beat last year’s game. We camped out for it, then stayed in the stands during the craziest storm I've ever seen (in America) while we were soaking wet and freezing cold and just screaming and laughing during the storm, despite the repeated warnings and admonitions from the stadium officials to immediately exit the stands, then having the storm clear up and then being there front row on the sideline, going nuts as we crushed UT at our first home game of the year. That game was the greatest. And it was the night after me and Hugh and Greg and Jake and Ryan Hernandez were the first people to storm the field and led the charge after our women’s soccer team beat Utah with a goal in the final minute! Best sports weekend of my life. It will probably never be beat. My adrenaline levels still haven't gone back to normal levels from that weekend. Good times...
But I'm having better times here, even though my mission is much, much different from my freshman year of college. It's so much more fulfilling when you come home at the end of the day, having served and thought about others all day long. So much better, even if it requires a little more effort at first.
So here is a crazy, crazy story from this week: Elder Johnson and I were coming back from an appointment behind the airport and we were turning off Phlov Russie (the main east to west road in Phnom Penh which we ride on all day every day) onto Phlov 2011, in order to go to our church. Its a turn I've made hundreds of times since I came here. So it was all routine, just another normal part of a normal day, and I saw a very normal white Toyota pick-up truck in front of me. On the back I saw a sticker that I have seen an uncountable number of times in my life so it didn't immediately register as a surprise to me. There was a decal that said "Red McCombs Toyota, San Antonio Texas". I looked at it, then looked at the road, then looked at it, then looked at the road, then I looked at it and I was like "WHAT IN THE WORLD?!!!! I'M IN POCHENTONG RIGHT NOW, NOT DRIVING ON HUEBNER!" I was like Elder Johnson Elder Johnson Elder Johnson look at that stick on the back of that truck! My mind was BLOWN. Haha, I have no idea what the story was for that truck and how it got to Cambodia. I tried to take my camera out of my backpack but I couldn't do it fast enough before the truck got too far away and turned. I wish I could've gotten a picture. No one is going to believe me haha... It was sooo weird. My new world and my past life collided right there at the intersection of Phlov Russie and Phlov 2011. Totally surreal
So yesterday Bong Viasnaa and Bong Niro were both confirmed! Yes!! And Lookpuu Mongkol is set to have both of his baptisimal interviews this next week so he ought to be baptized in 6 days! Yes!! Super cool. Elder Johnson and I were also blessed to find several people this week who have been prepared by Heavenly Father to hear his gospel. One of them is a couple, where the wife has been a Christian for a while, but the husband knows nothing. The wife, Bong Sokkhaa ate up everything we told her about the Restoration and the Plan of Salvation and her husband doesn't have a testimony yet from the Holy Ghost, but he wants to know whether its true or not, which is just as good. I know that through his sincere desire and yearning, he will most definitely get a witness from the Holy Ghost that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true church of our Heavenly Father here on the earth. I know that ANYONE can get that same witness by reading the Book of Mormon and praying about it. Anyone and everyone. If there is anyone reading this who isn't a member of the church, please, just read the Book of Mormon and pray about it. Meet with the local missionaries. I know that this church and gospel are true and that through them, we can all have joy in this life, and infinite and eternal joy in the life to come.
Man I wish with all my heart that I could have been there in the temple with yall and the Vietas family. That sounds so incredible. So does your other experience in the temple dad.
I have thought about my relationship with my Heavenly Father so much since coming on my mission. The first time I prayed in Cambodian and actually understood what I was saying, I just started crying there as I was on my knees. Because in Cambodian when you speak, you often speak in third person. So when I say my personal prayers in Cambodian I call myself "child" and obviously I call Heavenly Father "Father". It was the most humbling experience to go before him and say "Father, Child loves you and child needs your help right now." I was overcome by the reality of my eternal relationship with God. He is my Father and He is the Father of each and every one of us. How incredible to think that we are all the spirit sons and daughters of God! That’s why my favorite shirt in the world is one of the BYU gameday shirts from last year: the royal blue shirt that had a play on the typical "loyal, strong and true" phrase from the fight song and instead said "royal, strong, and true". It was a clever shirt, but it truly had one of the simplest and most profound truths written on it, plain for the world to see. And not only are BYU students royal, but every person under the face of the sun is! We are all sons and daughters of a King! How incredible! Each of us has an infinite self-worth! I LOVE going down the street and contacting and thinking while I'm talking to people: "Wow, Heavenly Father is perfectly aware of this person I'm talking to right now, and He always has been. He's known this person perfectly their entire life and He knew them before they came to the Earth as well. He must be so excited and anxious for them right now to agree to learn about His plan for them. This is one of His beloved children." What an incredible trust Heavenly Father has in his missionaries, to allow them to be His representatives to His children, each of whom He loves infinitely and unconditionally, and He wants every single one of them to learn about His gospel and His plan!
I had a tough week with the language this week, I really felt like I wasn't where I should have been with the language, but those insecurities really just arise from the ridiculous standards I set for myself with regard to the language. Sometimes I feel like I need to be fluent in Khmae coming out of my training, which is absurd and ridiculous, and probably isn't the Lord's plan for me. The heavenly virtue of patience is one I continue to learn and appreciate.
The problem with speaking Khmae as your second-language is that most Khmaes have literally never once in their life heard anyone but a native speak Khmae. No one... In English we have grown up listening to hundreds of accents and dialects and tones, and we are very accustomed to understanding different forms and pronunciations of the English language. With Khmae, that is NOT how it is. They literally have never had to hear anyone but a native speaker talk, and so when we try to talk to them and we don't say the vowels or consonants EXACTLY like a Khmae would, then some people have a hard time understanding us. That’s just some people though. We speak clearly enough (well Elder Johnson does at least) that we don't really have a problem with that most of the time. The other problem with speaking to Khmaes is that sometimes when you go up and talk to you is that before you even speak they throw up a mental block in the minds and are like "This is a baarang. He doesn't speak Khmae", so when we try to talk to them they can't understand us, because they've already told themselves in their heads that there is no way that we could know Khmae! Its kind of frustrating, but those situations don't happen too often, so that’s good. Most of the time the people are patient and accommodating.
So general conference is almost here! I'll be watching it in a little over a month! We watch it a week after y’all do! Man I am so excited for it, more excited than I've ever been for a movie or a book release or anything like that! I can't wait! Start preparing and pondering questions you have now! Through one way or another they will be answered during conference (or maybe even beforehand, during your personal study)!! And continue rereading the words of our leaders from last general conference!
How do you work your expenses, does the mission give you a debit card? We have a debit card. We go to the ATM at the beginning of every month and take out all our cash for the coming month.
Have you been biking in waist deep water yet, like you see in the pictures of other missionaries? Nope not waist-deep yet, just knee-deep
Where are the other elders in your apartment from? Elder McGavin is from Salt Lake. He just had his year-mark this past Wednesday. We had a steak dinner and he did the traditional burning of a white shirt. I'm not really sure where Elder Tii is from. Somewhere in Cambodia. He's an interesting one, that’s for sure.
|Elder Tii and Elder McGavin cooking steaks on our roof|
Elder McGavin performing the ritual of burning one of his white shirts
What have you done for Pday recently? We've had some pretty casual Pdays the last few weeks. Today is the same. We're going to go back to the house and sleep after this.
Does a rain jacket help in the monsoon-or is it a waste since the water is up to your waist and just wicks up anyway? Can you buy a light jacket there? Usually when it starts raining Elder Johnson and I try to go to one of the million roadside stands which sell these super cheap rain ponchos. They cost like 30 cents. We just use them to cover our backpacks in the basket on our bikes. Most of the time we just get soaking wet. Even though our backpacks are covered our stuff still gets wet. I don't know how it happens. Like I said, Cambodian rain is a whole different monster
Do you get flu vaccinations? We might get flu vaccinations. I have no idea
That’s crazy about Brianne's mission. That would be so hard not to have people at church. I have so much respect for European missionaries. Our mission goal is 3000 people at church on Sunday. I forgot to tell y’all but about a month ago we got 3014 people at sacrament meeting, the most in the history of Cambodia!!
I love this work so much. It is so difficult and strenuous but it is worth it, both in the here-and-now and in eternity. Yesterday I was reading in Enos during personal study and I came across a verse that touched me right to the core and reflected my innermost desire. Its Enos 1:27.
27 And I soon go to the place of my rest, which is with my Redeemer; for I know that in him I shall rest. And I rejoice in the day when my mortal shall put on immortality, and shall stand before him; then shall I see his face with pleasure, and he will say unto me: Come unto me, ye blessed, there is a place prepared for you in the mansions of my Father. Amen.
Matt 25:20-21 is also great.
20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.
21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
I love all of y’all so much! I'll finish with a quote from the movie Hercules: "I am on my way, I can go the distance. I don't care how far, somehow I'll be strong. I know every mile will be worth my while. I would go most anywhere to find where I belong... A voice keeps saying this is where I'm meant to be..."
Love Elder Neuberger
|Our back porch where our washing machine is|
Dead rotten bat I found right next to our washing machine out back
|Bong Puo's house where we were helping move rocks and soil from the front, through her house, and out to the back|
Haven't sent a picture of my cool scripture covers to y'all yet so here they are