Monday, February 23, 2015

New Year's is finally over

Wowwww! What a week! Fast, but certainly difficult. It was Chinese New Year from Wednesday to Saturday, and people were out in srok even longer than that. It was kind of like having a recurring nightmare of Pchum Ben (do you remember that way back in September? Feels like yesterday. Gosh, mission FLYS by!) The good thing is that Chinese New Year only lasts a few days, while Pchum Ben lasts for a few weeks. It’s still pretty hard not having anybody to teach, and then everybody you contact in the streets is drunk. So Elder Uhi and I did a lot of contacting for English class this week holding signs on the road outside the church building, because in our reasoning we figured that people riding motos would probably be a bit less drunk than people just standing around or sitting outside their houses. We contacted 106 people this week so it worked out pretty well. Taught just 14 lessons though. Still a lot though. Grateful for the lessons learned this week for sure! Heavenly Father truly is trying to help us be better! Not to make the relationship seem casual, but sometimes it just seems to me like I have a personal spiritual trainer, who works with me 24/7 to help me target which spiritual muscles of mine need the most work. Heavenly Father truly knows us perfectly.

Community in our area

With regard to the new stake presidency, that is crazy! I had a confirmation of dad becoming the new stake president last night actually while I was lying in bed. I was thinking about y’all and thought that y’all must be at stake conference right then, and I don't know, I just had the strongest/quietest feeling in my heart that dad would be called as the new stake president. It’s not because I thought dad was the coolest or most prepared guy in the world (although that is what I think), I just kind of had a quiet feeling in my heart. Kind of cool how the Spirit confirms things like that to us. That means that you'll be the person who releases me dad! That honestly makes me super happy because that moment is going to be super bittersweet, so it'll be nice to share it with you dad. I'm super excited for the growth and opportunities you'll have these next few years in this calling, and I'm sure serving with President Conrad and President Lindberg will be awesome as well! 

This week I contacted my first បារាំង(white guy)! We were contacting this one guy and this white guy walked out of nowhere and started speaking to us in Khmae (to be kind, I won't say anything of the quality of his Khmae, haha. I'm glad he's trying to learn it though, more power to ya...). Then he started speaking English and said he was from Massachusetts and that he had grown up in the second largest Khmae community in the U.S. in this little town north of Boston called Lowell or something like that. He moved to Cambodia 5 months ago. I was like Wow 5 months, that’s a long time! And then it hit me that I have been in Cambodia 2 months longer than him... Weird... But anyway, he was nice for the most part, we talked to him for about 20 minutes about religion. He grew up as a Jehovah's Witness, but is Buddhist now. He started attacking our beliefs at the end of it, trying to tell us that our beliefs are crazy and that we're really provincial/traditionalist/old-fashioned and that eventually our beliefs would catch up with the times. With these kind of people there is really nothing you can do but testify, so that is what Elder Uhi and I did. It was a really sweet experience, the Spirit was there helping us so strongly. I do really like a talk from last conference by Elder Lynn Gl. Robbins of the Seventy. He said "The scornful often accuse prophets of not living in the 21st century or of being bigoted. They attempt to persuade or even pressure the Church into lowering God’s standards to the level of their own inappropriate behavior, which in the words of Elder Neal A. Maxwell, will “develop self-contentment instead of seeking self-improvement” and repentance. Lowering the Lord’s standards to the level of a society’s inappropriate behavior is—apostasy."

So true. We always need to remember that we serve God and that it is His perfect plan. I love picturing Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ's smile of approval as I meet people and testify that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer and that Heavenly Father has created a perfect plan for all of us to return to live with Him and with our families forever. Even though people may reject our glad message (and sometimes vehemently so) I know that Heavenly Father is always happy with my service as I continue to serve this mission for Him.

The thing that I love about Khmae is that it makes everything look cool. Even normally mundane things like daily schedules and lesson plans.

This week was Elder Uhi's 19th birthday, so we went to Pizza Company, a pizza chain here that is pretty popular. That was fun. I hope it was his best birthday; even if was harder than the rest! Haha, mission birthdays are the best. I still remember my 19th birthday in the MTC so clearly. That was the day the Spurs won the National Championship. Best birthday present ever. Man, that seems like yesterday!

I have a few questions for y’all:
Did y’all ever get to see the movie Meet the Mormons? I remember it came out during my training, and Elder Uhi and his group got to watch it in the MTC, but I've never seen it (although I want to really, really bad). Was it good? Or did y’all not see it?
-Are gas prices still crazy cheap? Just curious
-Why'd y’all decide to name me after Guy Hill? Were there any specific attributes of his you'd hope I would take after? Just curious
-How many weeks are y’all setting aside for when y’all come pick me up?

Shoes outside of the mission home at english leadership training (you always remove your shoes before entering a home in Cambodia). If you think this is a lot of shoes you should see it on transfer day. Thats like four times as many shoes as this pic!

There was kind of a weird milestone this week, and it doesn't even directly involve me. The group right above me hit their year mark. Woah... It’s coming up for me too. NOOOOOO. I NEVER WANT THE MISSION TO END... The mission is the greatest. If there were any advice I could give to people back home it would be to go out with the missionaries on splits often and to immerse yourselves in the scripture. Oh, and go to the temple as much as possible. And one more thing, do lots and lots of family history work! I don't think there is anything better that can help young people prepare than those four things.
I love all of y’all so much! This church is true! If there is anything I learned about myself this week, it is that my testimony cannot and will not be shaken by men. My faith is in God, not in the words of men. Even after contacting someone who was pretty anti-Mormon, the Spirit still confirmed the truth of this church unto me.  I love D&C 6:22-23

Verily, verily, I say unto you, if you desire a further witness, cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me in your heart, that you might know concerning the truth of these things. Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?

Church is true y’all. If you're having doubts look not to men but to God. He has promised to reveal the truth of all things to us through the Holy Ghost. I know that that promise applies to each one of us, because we all truly are beloved sons and daughters of Him. Have great weeks!

Love Elder Neuberger

Contacting for englsh class with a lizard on our shoulder. Classic Cambodia

Our phone belongs in a Hello Kitty Museum

Yeah no, you read that right. 20 bucks for a pint.

A few different communities we saw this week in our area 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Happy Chinese New Year!

Happy Chinese New Year everyone! Don't get too excited now, it's still a couple days away, but prepare yourselves, because it's coming! I don't remember whether I told y’all or not, but Chinese New Year, Khmae New Year, and Universal New Year are all of equal importance in Cambodia. Cambodians just absolutely love their holidays. Haha, I love it. What a great people. If any of y'all don't have any Khmae friends, go and make some. They're the coolest people. If you're wondering where to find any, head over to your local donut shop and ask for the manager.

This week I got to see all the youth and the bishop from Pochentong! They were scrimmaging the Stung Mean Chey team in soccer in the field behind the church (in the middle of that banana orchard). It was super fun seeing all of them. It's been 3 months already since I left there! Can you believe I've been in Stung Mean Chey since before Thanksgiving! Gosh time flies!

Entering back in to Stung Mean Chey last Pday

Here's a fun story for y’all from a couple weeks ago which I forgot to tell you about. Elder Long and Elder Lauritzen, who live on the third floor of our house, noticed that the curtain in front of their window was blowing from the wind during personal study one day. When they drew back the curtain they discovered that someone had slid open the window and tried to get in their room but they couldn't because of the iron bars cemented across the window. They then opened the door out to the ledge outside their window and in the inch and a half layer of Stung Mean Chey dust on it they saw tons of bare footprints on the ledge and around the window. Cao!!! Thief!!! Cambodia has so many thieves its unreal. But no worries, we're safe. Cambodian thieves aren't the type of thieves to boldly break into a house and hold you at gunpoint (there aren't any guns in Cambodia to begin with). They're the sneaky/in-the-shadows type thieves. So no worries, we're safe. Plus if anyone got into our house Elder Uhi or Lauritzen could literally tear them apart with one hand. It’s nice to have very scary muscular athletes living with you in the same house.

We’ve been getting about 60 people out to our English class every week. This last week we were doing special activities night. It’s where all the classes (beginner, middle, and advanced) meet together and we do a big activity. This last week we acted out a murder mystery for them and they had to figure it out. I've been the English class leader in Stung Mean Chey for a transfer now. It’s been pretty fun organizing it all and seeing how we can use it as a better tool to proselyte and serve the community as well. This Wednesday all the English class leaders in the country are having a three hour meeting at the mission home to discuss who knows what.  Should be fun!

English Class

Wow can y’all believe that it's almost time for General Conference again?!!! Less than 2 months!!! I hope everything is getting pumped! Everyone make sure you reread all those talks from last conference in preparation for this one. I love General Conference so much. What an incredible age of technology we live in where we are able to watch the Lord's servants teach us from any place in the world, no matter what tongue we speak!

I've got a couple questions about people back home. How is Bernard doing? Is he still active and working towards the temple? Could you tell him hi for me as well? And how is Sister Lawson doing? What's the update on her? It was always so much fun going and visiting with her.

The work continues to move forward in Cambodia. Yesterday at church Elder Uhi and I had 4 investigators at church, plus two more people who we invited to come but we haven't had the opportunity to teach them yet. It is so much fun seeing people come unto Christ! I love this work with all my heart.

Eating dinner with Maa at Vichikaa's house

There is no greater work than this. The wonderful thing is that this work is for both the living and the dead. Temple work is exactly the same as missionary work, it's just for a different crowd of people. I miss the temple with all my heart. I am so eager to enter the sacred doors of a temple again. But that’s ok. For now I'll wait. I know that one day we will have a temple here in Cambodia. That is my single greatest motivation when I'm tired and maybe want to slow down a little bit, or let up, or take a break. I remember the temple, and I think of all the wonderful people here I have met that are working with all their might to help prepare this country for a temple as well. In the near future we will have one. I just envision myself watching General conference and hearing the prophet announce the new temples, and hearing him say "And we are excited to announce a new temple in the country of... Cambodia!" Oh man, those words bring so much joy and upliftment to my soul, even though they have yet to be uttered. One day though! There's a lot of work to do still though! Time to set our hands to the plow and prepare this people! I love y’all! I love Cambodia! I love everybody! God Bless! The Church is true. What else matters?!

Love Elder Neuberger

A plastic bag factory. Its not a garbage dump. This is a place where people actually live and work.

Wall mural at Burger King in Phnom Penh 
Elder Uhi and I suddenly had an appointment to go to and we didn't think we were going to meet that person so we hadn't set a lesson plan yet. We went over to the side of the road and started planning when all these little kids came up and started talking and playing with us. We stopped planning for five minutes and joked around with them a little. Seemed like the Christlike thing to do.

helping load this crazy heavy sacks of plastic bags into this huge truck

Never thought I would be serving in a desert!

So many wats. Here's a pretty cool one in the back parts of our area.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Read the Book

I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the restored true church of God here on the earth. I know that Jesus Christ established His church here on the earth during his mortal ministry, that that church was taken from the earth after His death and after the death of His apostles, and I know that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ truly appeared to Joseph Smith to restore that same exact church to the earth again here in modern times. Joseph Smith was and is a prophet of God. Praise to the man who communed with Jehovah!

I know that statement is very bold and I would never want anybody to believe it based solely off my personal conviction and confidence. I know that the message that I share and that every "Mormon" missionary shares is true and that it truly comes from God, but what is wonderful is that we don't try and convince people or debate with them! The simple fact of the matter is that the Church is true and that God will answer anyone who asks with a sincere heart "Is this church truly Thy Church?" I want to invite EVERYBODY to READ THE BOOK OF MORMON! Just try it out! Don't just say "Wow, I'm glad Elder Neuberger loves his religion so much, or wow that’s cool that he thinks that’s true." Because I'm promising everyone now that it is true and that you can know that as well. Just read the Book of Mormon and pray with a sincere heart and I promise with my whole soul that God will answer you. Eternal happiness lies at all of our fingertips. WE ARE ALL CHILDREN OF GOD! He has prepared a plan of happiness for the entire human race, for His entire family, to return to live with Him and enjoy every blessing that He enjoys. I promise you that the first step towards that eternal happiness is reading the Book of Mormon. I have no stronger desire in my heart than to show the gospel with everyone! It's true! I know it is! And everyone can know that too!

This week was amazing! Yesterday was transfer calls but it wasn't very exciting for our house, because none of us ended up being transferred. I'm super happy about that. I love everybody that I'm living with and serving with. I'm especially excited to finish training Elder Uhi. That elder is so good! He's going to be one of the great ones. He would deny that if I ever told him that though. He's just about the humblest guy ever.

Here's a pic we took at soccer this morning. Quick introduction for a few people: The guy on the far right is Elder Lauritzen (Elder Long's trainee), Elder Uhi is right next to him. Elder Allred is the guy standing right behind me with the fly emirates shirt (Elder Kim's trainee), Elder Kim is in the bright blue Samsung shirt and Elder Long is in the white long sleeve shirt on my right. Those are all the elders I live with. A couple more celebrity appearances are Elder Morris who is in the red and white shirt crouched down right next to Elder Uhi (he was in the MTC with me the whole time, but he's Vietnamese-speaking) and Elder Quirante is in the dark blue shirt is crouched down right next to me on my left (he was in me, Spencer's and Colton Kimball's EFY group back when we were 15).

I had some of the coolest lessons ever this week. Maa, the grandma of Vichikaa, a recent convert who Elder Kim and I baptized, told me the coolest story this week (Maa is a recent convert as well, by the way). She was out exercising somewhere and there was this Christian guy who was totally just giving her grief for being a member of the Church. She told me that she just told him "Well we have a temple of God where we can go and serve our ancestors, so how could it not be true?" And then she testified about Joseph Smith and about the Book of Mormon. Ahhh man! I was so excited when she was telling me all this!

We also had a super cool lesson with Vichikaa this week as well. He's been helping out Elder Uhi and I and Elder Kim and Elder Allred go and teach a ton recently. He's like the best member help ever (well, he's tied with Thol, who is another recent convert which Elder Kim and I had the privilege of baptizing). Elder Uhi and I taught him about missionary work this week and he said, "Elder, when I got out and teach with y’all, I never want to come back. I just want to go and teach always!" Elder Uhi and I looked at each other and just smiled, because the commitment we had planned to give Vichikaa that lesson was to begin preparing to serve a mission. We told him about serving a mission and shared a verse from D&C that talks about how the Lord will take care of and bless the families of those who go out and preach His gospel. He was so excited! I can't wait for him to go out and serve a mission.

We also had a super cool experience when Elder Uhi and I were at the church waiting for an appointment. Vichikaa was standing there with Elder Uhi and I and Viin and Thol pulled up and started talking to us too (they were waiting for Institute class to start). I saw a guy who I had contacted at English class on Wednesday night who had said he wanted to learn and I waved him over. The second I waved him over I didn't have to say a single word at all. Vichika, Viin (Viin is Thol's cousin-in-law and is another recent convert which Elder Kim and I baptized), and Thol started fellowshipping him for me without a single poke or prod from Elder Uhi or I! They invited him to the young single adults activity, to church on Sunday, and then to Institute! He ended up walking into Institute with them 10 minutes later to see what it was like and then he went to church for all three hours yesterday! We have an appointment with him on Wednesday morning to teach him the message of the Restoration!

OH MAN! Words cannot describe my joy as I just stood there and watch three recent converts whom I had the privilege to teach, baptize, and confirm go and contact and fellowship this guy into the church and testify about its truthfulness to him! That night I went and read Alma 26 and Ammon's words in that chapter come as close as I can possibly come to describing my joy and gratitude for the Lord strengthening and uplifting those people who I have helped bring into the fold. Ammon's words in Alma 26 echoed in my soul and increased my joy even more!

On Friday (I think it was Friday), Elder Allred started yelling from the kitchen "RAT, RAT" and we all sprinted down stairs. He was out on the back patio and he said he had just seen a huge monster rat, that it had hissed at him, and then it ran over into the corner of the patio behind this kind of gutter-thing which is right there. Elder Kim instantly grabbed this four-foot long rusty pole thing we have sitting out there. We were all huddled together as he went over and started trying to spook it so that it would come out of the corner. After about 10 seconds the rat leaped out of the corner and started sprinting at us. Elder long, Elder Uhi, and I immediately ran backwards. I looked back in time to see Elder Kim knock it out of the area and give it 4 or 5 solid hits before it finally died. I kid you not, I see him straighten up after giving the death blow and he looked like straight Hercules, when Hercules cuts himself out of that crazy multi-headed dragon thing. He raised his hands above his head and was just like YES! Haha, our adrenaline was all so high. We were all jumping around there in the kitchen cheering and chest bumping and going nuts. Haha, it was so much fun. After that elder Kim put the rat in a trash bag and carried it through the house out to the front but the bag had a hole in it so it leaked rat blood all throughout the bottom floor of the house. Haha, I quickly ran and poured bleach all over the floor. Ahhh, good times.

The monster rat we killed a couple days ago on the back porch where we cook all our food

Also had a super random experience this week while holding the English class sign outside of the church building with Elder Uhi. I see this moto go by and two people on it waved at me and it took me a second to register who it was but then i realized that it was Sokhaa and Somoo, two of my favorite investigators from Pochentong! It was the craziest coincidence! I looked back and started waving like crazy at them.

That’s super neat about the Spendloves and about all the changes in the stake. Obviously its a bummer for everyone in our stake to lose such a great family, but they're going to do miracles in that mission. It'll be exciting to see who gets called as the new stake president.

Ok, that’s all I have. I love all of y’all so much! Enjoy life and always be grateful in any circumstances you may find yourselves in!

Love Elder Burger

Eating bongaem ipov on some Buddhist holiday with Bong Srei Muan, our BM leader. It's basically like rice porridge, big chunks of pumpkin, and sugar

I continue to be amazed by some of the things I see while contacting.... I wanted to knock on this person's door so bad but I didn't dare. Its kind of illegal in Cambodia to knock on peoples doors and solicit stuff, even if you're not really soliciting and you're just a missionary

Phteah lvweengs right next to the church building