Sunday, November 9, 2014

Duck Eggs & Snails . . . Khmae style

Elder Vout and I helped a cow farmer from Kompung Spuu pull weeds to feed to his cows. I still don't know why he came all the way to a random dusty field in Pochentong to pull weeds but he did. 


What’s going on y'all?!

To start off, I am officially not in a three-some anymore. After zone training meeting on Friday Elder Caine went to Tuol Kok with Elder Brewer, one of the zone leaders. Elder Vore is now in Saen Sok with Elder Neeng. So it’s kind of a weird situation right now. Elder Vore and Elder Brewer are both still zone leaders but they are now split. Elder Vore is also my district leader now as well. Pretty hectic. I guess we'll wait and see how President Moon switches things at the end of this transfer, which is in less than two weeks. Actually we'll be getting transfer calls on Sunday, six days away! I kind of feel like I'll be in Pochentong for another transfer, even though its extremelyyy atypical for President Moon to keep a koon in their birth area for anything longer than 3 transfers. I think his main reasons is that, well, it’s your birth area. It’s the area where you really learned the language. Everybody kind of just knows you as the koon. I have no idea where I'll be transferred to though, because EVERYBODY in the mission was transferred last transfer. I think that there were only two companionships in the whole mission who weren't affected by last transfer at all. If I get transferred my personal guess is that I'm going somewhere in South or East Zone. I'm guessing Chaktomuk or Tuol Tom Pong or Steung Mean Chey. We'll see though. It's seriously impossible to guess correctly. Although Elder Johnson and I did guess where Elder Johnson would be going! We said he would be going to train a new koon in Kompung Cham Third Branch and that's exactly what happened! All I know is that I want to be transferred to an area which has a senior couple, mainly because I would love for a senior couple to invite me over for a nice American Thanksgiving dinner! Its weird, because North Zone is the largest zone in the entire mission but North Zone doesn't have a single senior couple.


Elder Caine being a baby and trying not to get his shoes wet. It wasn't even that deep.

A huge random lake/swamp behind this community we always go to contact in.

This week was kind of hard because there was another huge holiday this week. This one is called Om Tuuk, which in English they call the water festival. It was the first time in a couple years they've had it. The government has canceled it the last couple years because of deaths from flooding or something like that. The difference between Om Tuuk and Pchum Ben is that for Om Tuuk, instead of everyone going to their khaets, everyone comes from the khaets to the city! There were sooo many people in Phnom Penh. They all come to be with family and to watch the huge boat races that take place on the Mekong for three days straight. It’s a big deal. It still makes proselyting really difficult though because everybody is drunk or hanging out with family, so nobody wants to meet with us. Also, everyone is over on the east side of the city in Tuol Sang Kae and Chaktomuk over by the Mekong. So since I'm on the far west side of the city it’s hard to meet anybody. Pretty annoying, but dealing with holidays is just part of serving a mission in Cambodia. Khmaes have holidays and days off work almost every single week. It's crazy how many holidays they celebrate. For example they celebrate the western New Year, the Chinese New Year, and the Khmae New Year.

The entrance to a wat out in Caom Cauu (the far west part of our area)

Last Monday I got a lot of mail from y'all! Its weird what comes fast and what doesn't. Like I had gotten about 3 postcards from Florida about 2 months ago, but this last week I just barely got Dad's postcard which he sent from Florida! Somehow it came super slow. But at the same time I also received the items from Papa's funeral, and those came super fast. Thanks again for sending me Papa's funeral program and NanEtte's eulogy for him. It was beautiful. The most beautiful part of it all was definitely Riley's poem for Papa.  I was sitting on my bed crying as I read it. Thanks for making me feel like a total chump Riley. Great poem though!

Yesterday Elder Vout and I had the most incredible lesson right after church with this new investigator named Vituu. The presence of the Spirit was so incredibly powerful as we talked about the Restoration of the true gospel of Jesus Christ with him. It was an amazing lesson. It's after I walk out of lessons like that that I feel like I'm on cloud 9. It's lessons like that one that make weeks and weeks of hard labor in the sun and tons of canceled appointments worth it. When you look someone in the eyes and know that they aren't just hearing what you're saying, but they're listening and they're eating it up... Wow, what a feeling! To know that right at that moment the Spirit is calling eternal truths to their remembrance. Those are the moments where the veil is thinnest. When you tell them that someone is a child of God, and as you tell them the Spirit touches their heart and tells them that this is true, and that deep down in their soul, they have always known it to be true. Whewww!!! I wish everyone had the opportunity to be a full-time missionary!

It's sobering to think that in just a couple days I'll be hitting my 6-month mark. Where has the time gone? A quarter of my mission is gone! For the sisters in my group, a third of their mission is gone! It's amazing how fast time flies in retrospect, even when in the moment it sometimes feels like an eternity. I was thinking the other day about how long 2 years really is, and every time I think about it, I can't help but marvel how short two years really is! If we assume I'll live to the average age of 80, 2 years is but a 40th of my lifetime! That's nothing! I attended high school for twice that long, for goodness sake! It makes me happy that I haven't wasted these last 6 months though. Heavenly Father blessed me with a clear knowledge of my purpose as a missionary almost the moment I was set apart. I am so grateful to Him for that knowledge, and for the work ethic He has blessed me with ever since I was set apart. The grace of Jesus Christ truly is an enabling power, which pushes us beyond our limits and helps us to stretch the capacities of our souls. Without the grace of God, I might be able to make it to 10 am every morning without collapsing. Maybe... Only through the power of God are missionaries able to do the work with all of their "heart, might, mind, and strength". I think that it is ironic that we can't exercise all of our "heart, might, mind, and strength" without first relying on the Lord. It's only through His heart, mind, mind, and strength that we can in turn serve him with all of our heart, might, mind, and strength. We have such a great potential that can't be fully realized if we rely only upon our own efforts!

A quick note about the language this week: it’s impossible for me to detect accents when people are speaking Khmae. Like we talk to people all the time and Elder Vout will be like "this guy is Vietnamese" or "this guy is from China" and I'll be like "how in the world do you know?" and then we'll ask the guy where his homeland is and sure enough, Elder Vout will have guessed correctly. It works both ways though. Like Elder Caine speaks with the thickest South African/Mauritian accent ever, and Khmaes have literally no idea that he doesn't come from America. Elder Vout said he can't tell any difference in the way Elder Caine speaks and in the way I speak. Haha weird how that works.

Yesterday at church attendance went back up to 80 people. We've had 80 people probably 3-4 times since I came to Pochentong. We also had a less-active who we've been working with forever come to church for the first time in more than six months! It was awesome. We also have an investigator Maac (the guy whose house blew up in a gas explosion and whose phone was stolen) who we started meeting with again after a period of about 2 months where we really couldn't meet or schedule with him. He's come to church three times in a row, for all 3 hours every time. He ought to be baptized here in a couple of weeks.

Questions:
Do Khmaes eat with chopsticks? Or did they adopt silverware during French colonization? Yup, Khmaes eat with both chopsticks and silverware. Usually they use chopsticks to eat noodle dishes, and then with everything else they use silverware. You always eat with the fork in the left hand and the spoon in the right hand. It was kind of a weird adjustment at first but that's the only way I know how to eat now!

I saw somewhere that there is a lot of pickled vegetables in Cambodian cuisine.  True?  Ya pickled vegetables are super common. I eat them all the time. Super good

When was your last interview with President Moon?  Does he come to your area or do you go to the mission home?  I had an interview with President Moon about a week ago. He comes to the local stake center, so me and Elder Vout rode over the North Stake center.

I love how in the Book of Enos, Enos says that the prophets amongst the people were "continually reminding them... of the duration of eternity". That seems to be one of the hardest things to get people to understand. That a little sacrifice in this life will bring forth eternal treasures in the life to come. Like we sing in the hymn Praise to the Man: "sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven." If only everyone would understand what is at stake! I love Elder Holland's quote in Preach My Gospel: "The first thing you will do when an investigator tells you he or she had not read and prayed about the Book of Mormon is be devastated!... Much of the time we are too casual about all of this. This is eternal life. This is the salvation of the children of God. Eternity hangs in the balance... It is the most important path this investigator will ever walk but if he or she doesn't know that, at least you do!... So take control of the situation." 

This is our calling and duty, not just as full-time missionaries, but as members of God's true church, to remind our brothers and sisters here on the earth why the came to Earth in the first place. Every single person who has ever lived on the face of this Earth chose to come here. They wanted this life, they wanted this test, they wanted to have all of these experiences, even though they knew beforehand that it was going to be incredibly hard. They knew that coming here to Earth would be the only way that they could learn and gain a body and become more like their Heavenly Father. These facts are true for all of us! Let us all help our fellow men recognize their divine potential! Let's help everyone know that they are literally children of God, the ruler of the universe, who created everything in the universe for our sakes and for His greatest eternal purpose, which is "to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man". Too much is at stake for us to be hesitant in opening our mouths and testifying of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We must tell the world that there is a way provided from the foundation of the world for us all to return to live with our Heavenly Father and to inherit all that He hath! 

I know that this gospel is true. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true and living church on the face of the earth. I know that it is Heavenly Father's true church, and that he has bestowed divine power and authority to His servants here on the earth to lead and guide His children. Today, in the year 2014, we have a prophet of God and apostles here on the earth who lead and guide this Church! I testify that Thomas S. Monson is the Lord's chosen prophet and that he leads and guides this church today, under the constant direction and guidance of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I know that the Book of Mormon is true and that it comes from God. For those who don't yet have this knowledge, or who feel like their testimony of the Book of Mormon has weakened over the years, I urge you to read and pray about it! I absolutely know that the Holy Ghost will witness to your heart about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. Through the Holy Ghost, we all can know the truth of all things. Please, just pray and ask your Father in Heaven about it! He will answer you through the Holy Ghost, by giving you the most tender feelings of peace and joy! I love this Church and I love my mission. God bless you all! Have great weeks!


Love Elder Neuberger




Kyang srae, aka huge rice field snails. During Om Tuuk (the water festival) there was this big group of like 35-year old guys having a cook-out. They were all drunk, which explains all the beer cans in the pic. But when we contacted them they offered some snails to us! The snails are huge! You can barely fit one in your hand. They're boiling hot too. The key is to pick up the shell and rip out the huge chunk of meat inside with a toothpick before your hand is burned off. You would not believe how much meat is inside those things. You rip it out and its about the size of a large, slimy, chewy chicken nugget. Then you dip it in this lime and pepper sauce. It was so good! I would have eaten 10 more if my hand hadn't started blistering from how hot the shell was.

Finally ate a duck embryo!
Preparing to take the plunge . . . You've gotta suck out all those precious embryonic fluids before you start eating it. Khmaes don't waste a single drop, so of course I have to follow suit

I didn't do it for me, I did it in order to have a cool story to tell my grandchildren one day.

I ate not just one but two duck embryos because, as Elder Caine so loving put it, "Elder, anyone can do something once..."  Challenge accepted...
It kind of just tasted like a duck embryo. Eggy, ducky, feathery, bony,  embryotic-fluidy... Exactly like you'd imagine. Wasn't terrible though, I'd definitely eat them again.  Almost all Cambodian food gets better the more you eat it.

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