Monday, January 25, 2016

The Rats Have Laid Siege

What's going on y’all? Sounds like y’all had good weeks.

This week out in Prey Cho was great! Elder Walker and I are working as hard as we can to get this group progressing. This week went really well. We were able to meet several less-actives who we haven't been able to meet for several weeks (or at all)! Some of them came back in from other provinces where they were picking khmae potatoes and whatnot. We also had a wonderful day at church on Sunday! I'll tell you about it.

But first let me tell you about the battle for our home we're currently undergoing. So we live in the middle of a rice mill/pig/chicken farm. So you would expect there to be a lot of rats and mice. But for the first transfer I was here I didn't see a single one (well, inside of our house). But now they are seemingly launching D-day on our house. They keep us up all night with their squeaking, the rats without and the mice within. The nice thing about Cambodian rats is that they are so big there is no way they can fit their way into a house at all. The ones inside the rice mill are especially big. They've gotten huge from eating rice (side note: it always feels sooooo weird and incorrect to me to use the same word in English for the plant rice, uncooked rice, and cooked rice. In Khmae there's totally different words for rice depending on its state).  They are literally as big as our landlord's cat. The other day the cat had a big open wound on its backside (right down to the muscle) and I asked our landlord what happened and he said a rat got it in the warehouse. Welcome to Kampuchea, where the rats hunt the cats. Jerry-1, Tom-0... Our landlord’s big old dog also has some scars on its snout from battles with the rice mill rats.

So yeah. The mice have made a nest in the a/c unit in our room, which hangs about 6 feet over my head. Oh it’s so annoying at night. I'm paranoid one is going to fall out of the a/c on top of me, haha.

This week at church was awesome. Our investigator Ming Phen came to church for the second time and she brought her husband, whom we teach as well, with her! I love serving in a group, because when somebody who isn't a member walks in, everyone in the group takes notice and helps fellowship them. 

So about a month ago, Elder Smith and I were riding our bikes and these guys called us over and said they were members of our church (I think I told you about this if y’all remember). They were asking about Gordon B. Hinckley was doing, and were talking about how they used to learn about Nephi/Lehi and all that. Turns out they joined the church in Kampong Cham about 10 years ago and then moved out to the countryside and didn't realize a group had been established. So one of the guys I tried to call for 2-3 weeks to be able to invite him to church and he never picked up. We would go by his house and try and pick him and his brother up but they were never there.  So last week I gave up, but yesterday morning I had this feeling that I should give him a call. I called him and he didn't pick up. I was disappointed. But then a couple minutes later I got the impression, "I haven't given my full effort yet. Call Vanet one more time". So I did, seemingly just for kicks and giggles. After the third or fourth dial tone he picked up! I told him who I was, how we'd met him a few weeks earlier, and how we were anxious to meet him at church. I told him again where it was and what time we met. He said he would try to make it but didn't know for sure if he could. Lo and behold, right at 2:00 (our church time) Vanet pulls up with two nonmember friends who he had invited to come! It was his first time coming to church in almost 10 years! And Puu Dee, being the great guy he is, invited him to give the opening prayer. As he got up to stand at the podium, he leaned over to Puu Dee and said quietly, "I don't remember how." Puu Dee says, "It's ok. Try, just try!" So he did and said a wonderful prayer! It was awesome. 

Later in sacrament meeting, as I was playing the song "I Stand All Amazed" two octaves lower than normal (the middle 12 keys on our keyboard don't work so you've got to play super high or low), I looked up and saw the members singing and made eye-contact with a semi less-active neakming named Ming Srey whom we teach. She just gave me a smile, and I just felt so happy that she came, and all these others came. And even though sacrament meetings aren't perfect, even though rats always run out of the podium, and little completely naked dusty two year olds run through everyone’s legs kicking a lime around, even though people pick up their phone in the middle of the sacrament, I felt the Spirit so strongly. The Church is true no matter where you go. Sure there's a lot of kinks we're trying to sort out here in this young group, but they're trying their hardest to be faithful to what they know to be true. I had to fight back the tears as I played.

Experiences like that are common in the mission. Just little moments, where for a split second, the Spirit burns in you and you can feel God's love completely fill you, not just for yourself, but for those who you are looking at as well. Even though sometimes I feel like me and my companion have to act as bowling bumpers to keep the false doctrine from going too far out of bounds in Sunday School, I know that the Cambodian saints have testimonies of the basic truth of our Savior, His gospel, and His Church.

I'm so grateful for basic truths that I have known my whole life. I remember being so perplexed as a little kid as to why people always treated the question "What is the purpose of life?" as the deepest question of all time. I was like "What do you mean 'What's the purpose of life?' It's to learn, grow, receive a body, and prepare ourselves to meet God! Doesn't everyone know that?!"

It's such a blessing to have been born in this church. Not just any church, but the restored Church of Jesus Christ, which was established by Him and is governed by Him, yesterday, today, and forever. 

I hope y’all have wonderful weeks! I love y’all!

Love Elder Burger

Editor's Note:  Elder Neuberger has not sent pictures for the past two weeks.  These pictures were taken by Elder & Sister VanBrocklin.  They have a blog filled with beautiful pictures at

Monday, January 18, 2016

Two Years Since I Opened My Call Letter

Hello! Had a great week. This Thursday was transfers, but we had to go up to Kampong Cham on Wednesday afternoon so Elder Smith could catch a bus down to Phnom Penh. We didn't know that till Wednesday morning though when we called the zone leaders to get the game plan! So he packed up the rest of the stuff real quick and we were able to only go out for like two hours before we had to head off. So Elder Smith and I sadly parted ways at the KC bus station and then I went on exchange with Elder Hall the rest of the day, because he was waiting for his new companion as well. Then Thursday around noon Elder Walker arrived in KC, and we headed over to the glorious metropolis of Prey Cho! 

Elder Cole Walker is a really great, hardworking missionary. He is in Elder Smith's group, so he's been out for a little over 6 months now. He's from Layton, Utah. He has 2 older siblings, who are twins, a boy and a girl, and they are all serving missions right now! His siblings are both in Latin America. They're all way close in age. They graduated class of 2014, he is class of 2015.  Pretty neat!

So last week as Elder Smith and I were riding back to Kampong Cham we had a monk riding in the car with us. I don't typically have conversations with monks, but this one started talking to us in intelligible English! It was crazy. He said he runs a Buddhist radio station. Not your average monk. The way he started the conversation: "Pardon me sir, can I ask you a question? My mom has diabetes. What do I do to cure her?" Uhhhh... You're talking to the wrong Frenchmen here. We teach people about Jesus Christ!  We enjoyed our ride with him.

Elder Smith and I showed this to a couple members just so that they can see that the Church is more than just 25 people out in the middle of nowhere. I don't know if some of the members know that.

I know Heavenly Father hears and answers prayers. I have been hoping and praying that Ming Sophal, our recent convert, could have an even clearer understanding of the role and importance of Joseph Smith, and that she could more clearly understand that this is the only true Church. That's such a hard concept to get Cambodians to understand. They know the Church is true, but the connection doesn't always get made that all other churches don't have that same fullness. Ming Sophal occasionally quotes things her former pastor in Phnom Penh said, and while there's nothing wrong with that, I just wondered about how clearly she understood this concept. So Elder Smith and I decided that next time we would go back and teach about the restoration and first vision and the resultant blessings. At the end I felt like it still hadn't sunk into her heart. We committed her to read the introduction to the Book of Mormon. We felt there might be some messages in there that would speak to her. We never directly expressed the concern to her, just because calling out her former religion to her face seemed a little bit untactful in this particular situation. But we felt that by teaching the doctrine and praying for her, Heavenly Father would take care of the situation. When Elder Walker and I went over to teach her on Saturday morning, without us even having to ask her, right after we said the opening prayer she said "Elder I read the section you gave me to read. I know it’s true. Joseph Smith was a prophet and he helped restore this church that we have. You know what else? I was thinking this past week about that church I used to go to in Phnom Penh. They didn't encourage me to think about, pray for, and learn about my ancestors like y’all have. That point shows me that this is the true church. And also the Word of Wisdom does as well. I know that God wants us to have good health."

I don't know if I explained that very well, but it really was such a wonderful answer to prayer. I know that Heavenly Father knows all of His children. Not only does He just know us, but He loves us too, and He wants to help us all to return to live with Him. It’s so humbling to know that Heavenly Father will listen to my prayers. Sometimes I feel like such a weak servant of Him. I try my hardest, but sometimes my efforts seem so pathetic to me. But He hears me. And He hears the people I teach. He wants them to learn about Him even more than I do. A million times more. He wants my area to progress and for me and my companion to be successful more than I do as well. He wants me to be here; and I can't think of anything better than being an instrument in His hands, to help guide some other soul to repentance. As I see that happen, then memories come rushing back, of all the times Heavenly Father has guided me to repentance, and how He continues to do so. I love Him and am so grateful that He has blessed me with this opportunity to serve a mission and be able to express at least a part of the gratitude I have towards Him. But even more than the mission, I'm grateful for the covenants He allowed me to make with Him in the temple. Those have strengthened me in more ways than I could possible recognize. 

Saturday night, as I was kneeling down about to say my nightly prayer, I was blown away, because I realized that that day had marked two years from the day I opened my mission call, which told me that the Lord would have me preach the gospel to the Cambodian people. Those same feelings of shock and wonder that I had had when I opened my call 2 years ago washed over me again. Opening my mission call was such a sacred experience. The moment I saw "You are assigned to labor in the Cambodia Phnom Penh mission", the deepest feeling of peace immediately came and I suddenly had the most profound feeling that this call had been divinely made by my Heavenly Father.

I love this work and these sacred years in the service of God. Just like Elder Holland says: "The mission is as close to real life as it gets!"

Love Elder Burger

Monday, January 11, 2016

Welcome the Vietnam Hanoi Mission

Here's the Kampong Cham zone at zone training last Friday.

VIETNAM IS ITS OWN MISSION!!! Wow, that blew my mind! We found out Friday morning, when we had our January zone training meeting. The AP's called the zone leaders right before it started and they told us. So neat! Elder Hassell, President Hassell's little brother, who I emailed y’all about maybe 6 months ago, is going to be the new mission president. He'll end up serving the normal 3 years for a mission president, since he came to the mission right around last July. I'm so excited for him and Sister Hassell and for the country of Vietnam in general! What a blessing for them! It must be about to open up to non-Vietnamese foreigners here in the next few months maybe! This must be in direct relation to Elder Holland's visit to Vietnam back in August. He must have felt through the Spirit that the time had come for them to make the next step. I'm so excited for them!

Elder and Sister Hassell.  This is when they first arrived in the mission back when I was serving in the office.

Map of the New Vietnam Hanoi Mission

I feel so blessed to have witnessed the Lord's hand in such a wonderful way since I began my mission. I have seen the prophetic statements made in my patriarchal blessing, father's blessing, and Stake President setting apart that have come true. One especially I remember from dad's blessing to me, that I will see the Lord move forward His work in marvelous ways as I serve. That has come to pass beyond anything I could have imagined. In the duration of my mission I've been blessed to witness the 20th anniversary of the Church in Cambodia, the first two stakes created in Cambodia, 2 new provinces opened to missionary work in Cambodia, the first two patriarchs called in Cambodia, the official recognition of the Church in Vietnam, the coming of an apostle to both countries, and now the creation of the Vietnamese mission. Such a neat time to witness the Church progress in the Cambodia/Vietnam mission!

So transfer calls came. Elder Smith will be heading up to Siem Reap to be comps with Elder Chhouk, and I'll be taking Elder Chhouk's comp, Elder Walker, down here. I'm way bummed to see Elder Smith go, because we've been doing work together, but I'm also way pumped to be with Elder Walker! He's in Elder Smith's group, Elder Smith is Elder Brewer's kid and Elder Walker is Elder Eppley's! It's going to be a blast!

Our investigator Ming Sophal was confirmed and given the gift of the Holy Ghost yesterday at Church! It was awesome. We also had a new investigator come whom we met with this week for the first time, her name is Ming Pane. We've taught her about the Restoration and the Plan of Salvation and she is very curious to learn more. She is a special kind of investigator because she already understands the concept of different denominations in Christianity (that is like the hardest concept to get Cambodians to understand) and so she understands how she needs to find out if this specific sect is true. It makes me so happy that she is making a quest for truth, instead of mildly looking into the church of some frenchies. We ran over to Ming Sophoah's house (Puu Dee's wife) and asked her if she would sit next to our investigator (Ming Pane) who would be coming to church. She was like Ming Pane? Wait is she kind of big-figured, light skin? We were like yeah! She was like “She's my cousin!”  Wow so neat! And the other member we wanted to fellowship her, Ming Sophal, happens to know her as well! These are the benefits of serving in a community where everybody lives their whole lives (it’s not like people are moving out here at all). They are born and raised here, and so everyone has family and friends everywhere. It’s just a big ole network.

Ming Sophal had a super cool blessing come to her right after her baptism. So to support herself, she sells watermelons at the market, and a couple days after her baptism, she sold 440 watermelons in one day! Holy cow! So neat

Another cool experience this week (although sadly this one isn't spiritual) is that Elder Smith and I were riding our bikes at a pretty good clip down this country road and it was twilight, so really hazy light. This road is pretty twisty-turny. So we're riding down and something startled this cow I guess, and it bursts out of the vegetation of this house right next to this tight corner right in front of me, so I hit my brakes as hard as I can, and since it’s Cambodia and the road is nothing but pure dust my bike went into the craziest power slide you've ever seen. I felt like a bmx rider. My bike tire slid out for a solid second but I kept riding. Easily the smoothest moment of my life. But the only people who saw were Elder Smith and the cow.... That's just kind of how life works I think.

Last p-day playing touch football behind the local high school in Kampong Cham

This week was good otherwise. Taught thirty lessons and contacted almost ninety people. One of those rare weeks where the numbers actually reflect all the work you put in. I love this group and all the people of Prey Cho. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to do hard things. Boy, are missions not easy, but I couldn't think of a better way to show my gratitude to Heavenly Father and my Savior. I know that They are pleased with where I am. That's all that matters to me:)  

I love the Church and know it’s true.
Love Elder Neuberger

Editor's note:  This is a story from Elder Smith's blog a couple of week's ago.  It is a great story and worth sharing:  

I wanna share one miracle that happened to one of our members. So right now everyone is harvesting their rice and planting. The lady we live with has some big rice fields. She sells the type of rice that all the rich people eat. It's super good and sweet. She went to her fields and started to throw the rice seeds in her fields. Her neighbors started making fun of her, because they said they saw 30 rats in her field the day before and the rats were going to eat all of her seeds.  So she dropped her basket and prayed in faith that the rats wouldn't eat the rice in her field. Then she just continued to throw all of her seeds. All of it. That's a ton of faith. The next day when she came back all she saw in her field was a huge python as thick as her leg in her field. The snake ate and scared all of the rats away. So sick! God is in the details of our life.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Happy "International" New Year!

I'm way sad that you can't see the real color of the sun in this sunset. Took this pic out in Phum Lvwia. The sun was the most insane color of neon orange. You could look straight at it and it wouldn't hurt your eyes. I've like never seen the sun as colorful as it was.

Hey y’all! I'm emailing in the year 2016! That's crazy! 2016 is so far in the future, it doesn't even seem real. Having International New Year in Cambodia cracks me up. They honestly don't really care. They follow the international calendar, but for International New Year it's not even a big deal. We kept saying Happy New Year’s to people who we were contacting on New Year’s Day and they kept saying "Huh, is it new year’s today? What day is it?" "First of January." "Huh, well I guess it is New Years." And that's that. Haha, but when Chinese New Year comes around, which literally has nothing to do with Cambodia at all, they party for 3 days nonstop. And then Khmae New Year is like 3 weeks of partying. Ahhhh I love it!

A fun contacting anecdote from this week: We were in Prey Cho village, contacting down this street we've never gone down, and this Ming told us she was busy, which is what everybody tells you if they don't want to learn because Cambodians are afraid to offend you, so they don't tell you straight they don't want to learn, they just say they're busy. But she said it so cool I was fine with her saying she was busy. She said, "I want to learn, I really do, but I'm never here. I go out to the fields, I come back, I go to watch the cows, then I come back and watch the grandkids, then I go and buy food at the market and come back and make it. I'm randomly back and forth. I'm like a firefly." Haha I was like wow "I'm like a firefly"?? That's deep ming. We've scheduled to come back and teach her son though, who lives down this little country lane about 30 meters from her house, and who we had happened to meet just a few minutes before we contacted her.

Yesterday Ming Sophal was baptized! It was a great Sunday. We left our house a little after 6:30 in the morning so we could bike the 3ish kilos out west to her house. Only problem was Elder Smith's bike broke down late Saturday night (which I'm sure is the specified time set apart by Satan to wreak havoc on all missionaries' bikes), so we just doped each other on one bike out there. Kinda tiring, but not too bad. So we got there around 7 and flagged down a car with her so we could take her to church in Kampong Cham (we go to KC 3rd branch every fast Sunday). We had 71 people at sacrament meeting, which is a ton for that branch!! We even got like 10 people from our group out too, which is good, because it’s a big financial sacrifice for the members to go out to Kampong Cham. So church was from 8-11 and then Ming Sophals baptism was at 11. Elder Smith baptized her. There was also a little 8 year old girl being baptized; apparently her parents are less-actives. Good for her too though! Ming Sophal;'s testimony is incredibly strong. It's incredible and a little formidable witnessing and participating in eternal ordinances. She will literally remember that ordinance forever. How cool to participate in such a lasting work!

Ming Sophal's baptism at Kampong Cham 3rd Branch building

Other than that, not too much went on this week. We did a lot of contacting this week, going out to some villages we hadn't been to before, including Poom Goke Trea Lec, Poom Tajak, and Poom Dongao. We have a couple return appointments scheduled for Tuesday that I'm excited about! One of the them is with Bong Lae, who is the son of the firefly lady. We met him a few days ago when he waved us down along the national highway and in broken English asked if we would come and visit his English class that he teaches. We said we'd love to, so a couple days later we went and taught English to his class of 12 year olds that he teaches in a brick and tin shack building beside his house.  It has these wooden bleacher sort of things for the kids to sit on. We taught for like 45 minutes and then had to run to Ming Sophal's baptismal interview, but we went back a couple days later and he said he would be really interested in learning more about Christ and His true church!  Also later that day we were up in Phum Goke Trea and we were contacting a loke-puu who said he wasn't interested but said there was a woman named Ming Pane over there (he points vaguely over his shoulder) who is a Christian. So we were excited, since Christians out here in Srok Prey Cho are super rare. So we headed out in that direction, asking people as we went if they wanted to learn about Jesus Christ and then asking if they knew Ming Pane and where she lives (which would be a creepy question in America but it’s totally fine in Cambodia to ask prying questions like that). So we kept going along, down a road to one house, directed across a field to another house until we finally got to hers. We talked to her for about half an hour. We had about 10 others gathered around us as we talked about our church. She said she and her husband were always free and we could definitely come back on Tuesday. So we'll meet her tomorrow as well!

Out in Phum Tajak and Phum Goke Trea

One quick thing from my personal study this morning: I am always amazed at how similar the teaching experience for the sons of Mosiah teaching the Lamanites is to teaching Khmaes. Khmaes and the Lamanites have very similar belief systems and culture. It really is remarkable (I'm not talking about being bloodthirsty). I love in Alma 37:7-12, where Alma tells his son of all the benefits of the Book of Mormon and the power and roles it has in conversion.

7 And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls.

 8 And now, it has hitherto been wisdom in God that these things should be preserved; for behold, they have enlarged the memory of this people, yea, and convinced many of the error of their ways, and brought them to the knowledge of their God unto the salvation of their souls.

9 Yea, I say unto you, were it not for these things that these records do contain, which are on these plates, Ammon and his brethren could not have convinced so many thousands of the Lamanites of the incorrect tradition of their fathers; yea, these records and their words brought them unto repentance; that is, they brought them to the knowledge of the Lord their God, and to rejoice in Jesus Christ their Redeemer.

10 And who knoweth but what they will be the means of bringing many thousands of them, yea, and also many thousands of our stiffnecked brethren, the Nephites, who are now hardening their hearts in sin and iniquities, to the knowledge of their Redeemer?

11 Now these mysteries are not yet fully made known unto me; therefore I shall forbear.

12 And it may suffice if I only say they are preserved for a wise purpose, which purpose is known unto God; for he doth counsel in wisdom over all his works, and his paths are straight, and his course is one eternal round.  Alma 37:7-12

ខ្ញុំមានតែប៉ុនហ្នឹង! សុខសប្បាយណ៎ះ!
អ៊ែលឌើរ​ បុើរហ្គើរ
Teaching our recent convert, Puu Mao, how to do sit-ups. He said he wanted to get in shape.

Out in Phum Tajak and Phum Goke Trea