Monday, September 1, 2014

The Rainy Season is Here

Hey! Guess what? I just finished my first transfer! (Elder Johnson and I are still together) Kind of terrifying how fast the mission goes. Actually it’s really terrifying. It seems like just yesterday I said goodbye to my friends at BYU, but it was actually about 4.5 months ago! Unreal! And its been 3.5 months since I said goodbye to everyone in San Antonio! What in the world? My life is a tornado, or more appropriately, since the rainy season is growing into its full glory, a monsoon.

Me sitting on this platform thing called a kree (it means bed) which basically every Cambodian has outside their home. This one was built on stilts over this lake/pond/swamp

So yeah, it’s technically been the rainy season since I got here, but they had an abnormally dry July and August (haha even though it rained probably 5-6 days a week). But this week the rainy season really began. It poured (POURED) every afternoon all afternoon. It’s flooded several times here since I got here, but not like this. NOT like this. Haha, its so crazy, and we aren't even in the bad part of the rainy season yet! Apparently in October its like Noah's flood. Can't wait! The rain is super fun once you're soaked. Its not too fun getting soaked but once you're soaked you're good. I've learned, after having my scriptures and a couple of books in my backpack get water damaged a little bit, to keep all of my stuff in Ziploc bags in my backpack, that way I don't have to worry about anything at all! Sometimes its freezinggggg though. Like when you're riding your back and the furious monsoon winds are blowing, and you're wetter than you've ever been in your life, it is so cold. I was shivering on my bike the other day. I didn't think I'd ever have to say that about my mission but its true. I can now say that I've been freezing cold in Cambodia!

Kids playing in the pouring rain while we were out contacting. I managed to dry off my hands enough to take out my camera (we were contacting someone under this pavilion thing)

While we're on the topic of rain, I feel that Cambodian rain is a special breed. It may sound crazy but I feel like it gets you wetter than American rain does. It soaks you deeper. Its a new beast that I don't know how to handle. And another thing: Cambodian raindrops are bigger. It sounds crazy I know, but I promise you that they are. The first few raindrops that fall before a storm are HUGE. They sting when they hit you! No one is going to believe me... That’s probably the hardest part of being a missionary in Cambodia. I have so many unbelievable experiences, but that is just the problem. They're unbelievable! Sometimes I almost feel like I have to tone them down or not tell them to you in full so that you'll believe me and not think that I'm exaggerating or lying! Haha kind of a weird problem to have...

Drying off the scriptures after a day of proselyting in Cambodia during the rainy season

Elder Johnson and I have been having a rough couple of weeks. No one has been meeting with us. In the last 12 days we have taught 3 lessons in a day (the mission standard) just once. No matter how many people we call, or many houses we show up to, or how many new investigators we get, everyone seems to either not pick up their phone, or tell us they're too busy, or not be at home, or tell us that they've decided to not learn anymore. Elder Johnson and I have counted 7 investigators in the last month who were super-super solid as we taught the first lesson and were excited to meet again and learn more, and then when we call them or show up to our 2nd appointment they're like "go away, I don't want to learn" or "I'm way too busy, here's your book back" or "my wife doesn't want me to learn at all, so I'm going to stop meeting with y’all". We don't know why. We're struggling right now, but through these last couple of weeks we sure have learned a lot about patience and perseverance. Hopefully it turns around.

It was also frustrating this week because Bong Niro was sick on Sunday so she couldn't be confirmed, and Bong Viasnaa couldn't be confirmed because he didn't show up to church (and we couldn't reach him by phone all week), and Puu Mongkol couldn't be baptized because he needs to have another interview and then he didn't show up to church either. Nor did any of our other investigators. We had ZERO investigators at church this Sunday. So disappointing. Its been so hard, but we really are learning and growing a lot. Like Grandpa said last week in an email, Elder Johnson and I have had many, many days in the last couple weeks to "practice smiling". Haha I love it though. Learning to be happy in my circumstances has been the greatest lesson I've yet learned on my mission.

The tender mercies of the Lord really are real. This last week, on Friday I think, Elder Johnson and I were having one of those days where EVERY appointment fell through and we couldn't find a single person who could or wanted to meet. And it was pouring like it never had before as well. Since we had no one to meet with we went out and contacted in the torrent. That afternoon probably should have been the low point of our week, the dreariest part, but Heavenly Father answered our prayers just like He did for the people of Alma. He didn't take away our burdens, but He made them light. He helped us to have excellent attitudes. He lifted our spirits till they soared and we couldn't stop smiling. We were laughing so much as we biked around through the floodwaters almost up to our knees. I'll probably remember the joy I felt that afternoon for the rest of my life.

I'm glad to hear schools going well for everyone! Cool to hear that Brooke’s finally going out into the mission field! Haha, that’s so weird that its Labor Day tomorrow, I forgot that there’s such a thing as American holidays. Khmaes don't celebrate a single one of them, but believe me when I tell you that they don't need them! They have so many of their own! There have been several days since I've been here where almost nobody is outside and Elder Johnson goes "Well I guess its another holiday". Haha how many holidays can one culture have? Have fun at the ward swim party and cake auction and at the BYU/UT game!

Have you had zone conference yet?  Haven't had a zone conference yet. I think we'll be having one sometime in October.

Have you received any of our postal mail or dearelders yet?  I got a few dear elders last week. The ones that had the talk from Elder Bednar. If that’s the mail you're referring to then yes I got it. If its not, then no it still hasn't come

Thanks for y’alls love and support! Tell everyone at home that I love them and that the gospel is true!

Love Elder Neuberger

Eating this dish called "koo laung phnom". It means "cow climbs mountain". Super super good. Almost like fondue or something, cuz you kind of take whatever you want from the bowls around it and then put it in and cook it and then take it out. Really fun!

Elder Johnson at the koo laung phnom dinner we had after our auxiliary leadership coordination meeting.

Oh yeah the meat you eat in koo laung phnom is cow innards, aka kidney and heart. Both super good, I ate so much kidney and heart it was ridiculous. Haha I have a feeling that no one is going to believe me when I say that this dish is delicious.
Piece of kidney. yummmmm. So good

Our bedroom in Tuk Thlaa. We love it, it has a super cold a/c.

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