Monday, October 20, 2014

Moto accidents and missionary work

Cumriapsua neak teang ah knia!

I have more time to email this week! I explained to Elder Vuut that I needed more time to email and he was cool with it. That was my fault last week, I knew that Khmaes didn't like emailing for a long time and I failed to discuss it with him before we went. Sorry again!

This week was super fun and super hard. I'm learning a lot from Elder Vuut. He's seriously one of the funniest people I've ever met. It only makes it funnier that most of his jokes are in Khmae. Anybody who has ever learned another language knows that jokes are always funnier in that language. I don't really know why though. Maybe you laugh harder because you love that you can understand another language? Haha, I really don't know the reason behind it. But he's funny, that’s for sure.

I think that the rainy season is over for the most part. It only rained once or twice this week. One of the times it rained we were going back home at the end of the day and it just started pouring. Elder Vuut pulled over to the side of the road to throw a poncho over his backpack and I didn't seem him for a second.  So when I finally did see that he had stopped I slammed my brakes, which is not good when you're riding in pouring rain. I screeched/slid to a stop and a moto behind me hit my bike pretty hard (that was one of three times I was hit by a moto this week. I'm ok though, no worries!). I didn't fall off my bike or anything, but it jolted me pretty good, and somehow when the bike hit me it made the gears switch to a super low gear, which is a problem because my gear shift doesn't work so I couldn't switch it back. That happened late Saturday night so I haven't been able to get it fixed since then! I've looked ridiculous as I've had to bike everywhere, pedaling super fast but not really going fast at all. Haha, I'll go get it fixed today.

Have I told y’all that in Cambodia, dreams are incredibly important? For almost every investigator, receiving a dream about the truthfulness of the church is essential in the conversion process. One thing I pray for every day is for them to have good dreams! Definitely not something I would ever think I would be praying for my investigators to have, but it works! The Holy Ghost really does teach us according to what will have the greatest impact on our souls.

One thing that has really helped me on my mission, and outside my mission, is making a conscious effort, every second of every day, to see other people as people, and not just as dynamic objects in the background of our life's stage. My sophomore year of high school I read a book, and I don't remember the title at all so don't ask me, that helped me realize this. That everyone around us has their own thoughts, their own lives, their own successes, and their own struggles. I think to that point in my life I had been very self-centered in my thoughts. It's not like I looked at other people as objects per say, but I definitely didn't make a constant effort to see them as people, just like me. Since then, as I've really strived to change my perspective on the world in which I interact, life has been so much happier and made so much sense! It truly is incredible when you think about it. Just think about all the thoughts and memories and emotions stored in each of our heads! Then think about how many thoughts and memories and emotions are in a room of 30 people! Incredible! And what is even more incredible is that our Heavenly Father has a perfect knowledge of all of our thoughts, feelings, emotions, desires, and goals and those of every single one of His children! Wow!

Last week I didn't really share what I had learned from conference, but I learned a ton! It was amazing! I think my two favorite talks were those of Elder Robbins and Elder Richard G. Scott. I loved the quote from C.S. Lewis in Elder Robbins’ talk: "Courage is the form of every virtue at the testing point." 

So to answer your question, yes one of the sisters is an American. Her name is Sister Spangler. She's a new trainee. Its super fun watching the new trainees adapt to life here in Cambodia. It blows my mind that what now seems so completely ordinary to me is completely bizarre and alien to them. Haha, they get freaked out at the simplest things. Its crazy that just three months ago that is where I was. 

I am at a super weird stage in my life where I feel like I don't have a command over a single language. I have forgotten so much English, its insane. Like the other day I was laughing with Sister Kuac about her name, because it means "to whirl" in Khmae. When Sister Spangler asked me what “kuac” meant I didn't know what to tell her. I couldn't think of a word, so after a couple seconds I just made a spinning motion with my finger. Haha, I felt like an idiot. That sort of thing happens to me every single day. So yeah, I don't know English anymore, and I certainly don't know Khmae still. It's frustrating for me to speak English and it’s frustrating to speak Khmae. Haha, not very fun.

Here's a random event from this week: Elder Vuut and I were at this guy Siav's house and there was this literally kid crying and whining outside his shack which sounded exactly, I kid you not, like Ralphie's little brother in "A Christmas Story". It was uncanny.

Here's a another random event: Yesterday at church before Elder's quorum I heard Taa Saay, the 80 year-old man in our ward, telling someone about this hero in America, and I didn't catch the name he said so I was like "Taa who is a hero in America taa?" and he said the name again and I didn't recognize it. It sounded like MyyTeesone. Eventually I figured out that he was talking about Mike Tyson. I started laughing so hard. Just the fact that Taa Saay knows who Mike Tyson is, let alone that he thinks Mike Tyson is one of our heroes in America, was funny.

On Friday morning Elder Vuut and I went to teach a less-active member. He wasn't home so as I pondered what to do, a thought came into my head: "Go to Puu Mongkols house." At this point we hadn't met Lookpuu Mongkol for over a month and a half and we had only seen him once since he failed his baptismal interview 2 months ago. I thought that that was a weird idea because I was positive that he wouldn't be home, he is never home at that time. It would be a waste of our time to bike over there. So I pushed the thought out of my mind. But then immediately the thought came right back "Go to Puu Mongkols house." I told Elder Vuut that I feel like we should go over to Puu Mongkol's, so over we went. When we pulled up to his house I felt so sad and depressed in my stomach as I looked at the door and saw that he it was chained shut. I was convinced that we needed to come here! Had I misunderstood the impression? Had I made it up? Was there another reason that we needed to be there? I was super lost. I didn't know what to do. After a few seconds I turned around to leave and the second I turned around I saw Lookpuu Mongkol puttering down the hill on his moto. I had to turn away for a moment to wipe the tears out of my eyes. We were able to sit down with him and have a wonderful lesson with him. I was so touched by that experience with the Spirit on Friday. The tender mercies of the Lord are real in our lives. I am so grateful for the guidance of the Spirit in my life and I don't know what I would do without it. I am so grateful for the confirmation from my Heavenly Father that He is aware of me, that He loves me and that He wants to help me carry out His work here amongst His children in Cambodia. Even though I am just another missionary in His vast army, and even though sometimes I feel like I must be one of the duller or more misshapen tools in His shed, He still loves me perfectly and wants to help.

That is all I got for today. I love you all! I have just one more thing. I have an idea for what I would like for Christmas. Could everybody in the immediate family just type up a few special missionary experiences they've had recently? I'd love to hear about them! If you haven't had any recently, well then go out and have some and then type them up and tell me about them! And especially for you dad, I'd love to hear about your mission. Since I've come out I realize that I have really never asked about it at all! What was your mission like, what was your mission president like, how were your companions, what amazing experiences did you have with your investigators? So yeah, that’s all I want. I figured I should give y’all some heads-up. Love y’all, have a great week!

Love Elder Burger (I don't know if I've told y’all but I gave up on going by Elder Neuberger months ago. Everyone just calls me elder burger or elder hamburger)

These are fires on the railroad at night. There are always fires EVERYWHERE in Cambodia. They burn all of their trash outside their homes. At night Cambodia sometimes looks like a level in Dante's Inferno. Its super eerie looking. So yeah, everyday when I come home I smell like I've been on a campout for a week.

For those curious about the progress of my watch-tan, here it is. Haha, when I went to the phsaa this morning I forgot to put it on and I heard everybody around me saying "Look at that white guys watch tan!". I'm pretty sure it'll be permanent after another year and a half.



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