Monday, March 31, 2014

What Is Heat?

My area is huge, like an hour to drive from one end to the other huge, so it's hard to really label it as poor or nice.  Half of my area is farm land and mountains and ridiculously goregous but not as wealthy.  Then there's a part that is the tourist area and rich in culture.  And then there's where I live which is average except for the neighborhood that is connected to it.  To call it a neighborhood is kind of an understatement. Let me try to describe it to you.  It's called Lomas de Cocoyoc (but in Oaxtepec so go figure) and its basically the Beverly Hills of Morales.  It could easily be its own city!!! First off there are armed guards at the entrance so you can't enter unless someone who lives there lets you in.  Second, there are all these nice stores and resturants inside.  Third the houses are bigger then my own and have grass and air conditioning...which means a lot!!! The other night we were at a member's house who lives in this area and I seriously couldnt remember where I was when we left.  So jump on google maps and check it out...I live in #56 Moctezuma, Oaxtepec.....if you can even google map that.

I went shopping today and when we walked into the store a song, that i deem the theme song of Jamestown #27 (Travis' apartment) was playing.  I half expected Chris Smith to come dancing around the corner followed by Scott Holmes. I was overjoyed.  I could go on forever about the singing here but instead I'll comment on the crazy amount of English music that's everywhere.  The other day we were teaching a lesson and I almost started laughing because "Happy" came on (kind of my theme song) and I just wanted to start singing.  All the time on the buses my comp and I look at each other and start mouthing the words.

So this week, where to even begin, it's hot!!! Shocking I know, but I'm pretty sure I've never been this hot before.  I washed everything I own today (an interesting process that involves multiple buckets and a scrubbing board) and was shocked to see how dirty the water was...Whoops!
Can i just say I LOVE the way Mexicans drive. Americans should take some tips from other countries and realizes that traffic rules arent needed ;) The other day a member was driving us to her house and driving 70 km/h down the windy road...lets just add in that she was also older.  Safe to say it was absolutely awesome!!!
We had the first bugs enter our apartment this week and it was thrilling.  They've never really bothered me but my companion has different feelings to say the least.  But we have a frying pan so all is well ("frying pans, who knew??)! Those scorpions literally didn't know what hit them and some of the spiders bodies were never found.  Basically, the first time we found a scorpion my comp was screaming, which made me keel over in laughter, ending up right next to the scorpion.  A member later told me about how poisonous it was, so I won't make that mistake again! Now my companion just says, "Neuberger, take it out!" and hands me the frying pan all Jason Bourney.
I'm pretty sure all the members and everyone else in Mexico thinks we're starving.  Members feed us everyday and instead of taking food home like my Mom always makes the missionaries do, these members just expect us to eat everything right then and there....four courses at least and always second helpings of everything.  It's great because the food here is amazing (I could go on for hours) but there's a point in which all your body's senses are in red alert and telling you to stop before you die!!!! We eat one meal a day cause thats all we need, but we'd never tell the members here that. They offer to buy us groceries all the time and comment on our small figures.  I'm actually proud that I've managed to maintain mine...and I don't know how long it will last! Hermana Gordita here I come!!!! The mission theme here is, "Go big or go home.....or go home big" and I wouldnt want to be the one to break mission rules.
Anyway, this week was really great overall with the exception of Friday which was easily the hardest day of my life.  We got burned for all 10 of our appointments, 2 of which we had ridden the bus for an hour to get to.  To make things better, no one wanted to talk to us and it was safe to say I was lower then low.  My comp hit it on the head when she said, "it hurts so bad when people reject us because in reality theyre rejecting God." Were offering them the greatest gift of all time and they can't take three seconds to hear it.  But that's the joy of missionary work at the same time, we have a gift that can make you happy for all eternity so when people do listen everything is worth it!!! I have a testimony and I want EVERYONE to hear it no matter how terrible my Spanish is!  Since I didn't have the amazing Travis on speed dial, luckily my district leader stepped in with a powerful scripture and a ton of broken English that put a smile on my face!!! Alma 26:27-28 Turning back is never the answer towards success!!!
The miracle of the week (and yes I say of the week cause I'm pretty sure there's always one).  We were once again wandering around trying to find an address (how miracles always happen) and we stumbled upon a lady who had been reading and studying the Book of Mormon along with the Bible for two years.  Her brother, who lived in the States, was a member and when he died she took his Book of Mormon because she wanted to understand the source of his happiness.  She was trying so hard to live the commandments and just didnt know how.  It was safe to say we were happy!!!! We were like, "we know, we know, let us tell you all about it!!!"

Everyone take the time to watch General Conference this week because I already know its gonna be AMAZING!!!
Thanks for your constant support and letters,
HUGS, smiles, and laughter,

Hermana Neuberger

Monday, March 24, 2014

It's Mexico and It's Amazing!

Is there any better place then Mexico?? Better yet is there anything greater then this work?? Holy cow I don't even know where to begin so if I don't have time to include everything I want to say I just want to throw it out there that life is more then great and I certainly cant stop smiling.

I guess I'll start with the Sunday night before we left the MTC because the experience I had that night will most certainly always be among the top ten greatest spiritual moments ever.  My district and the other district in my zone that entered the MTC the same day that I did, decided to walk home from main campus and stop by the temple to take pics in the dark.  From there we went to the chapel in Wyview and the 10 elders proceeded to give us priesthood blessings.  I can't describe the spirit that filled the room and how thankful I am for the power of the priesthood in my life.  It didn't matter if the blessing wasn't just for me, I still felt its power.  Having 10 of the finest elders I've ever met surrounding me just added to the happiness!!! I was thankful beyond belief for that moment.  We didn't want to leave but knew we had to head home because all the hermanas from our zone were coming to our apartment that night to break the pinata (yes Hermana Sturts mom sent us one of those) and to pop some martinellis (also courtesy of momma Sturt).  We also had more food then we knew what to do with because we all received at least two packages on Friday full of more food despite the fact that we were leaving.  Anyway, huge food fest with laughter and quite a few tears at the end.  My apartment didn't start crying till everyone left and we had our last apartment prayer...when we realized it was our last.

We left the MTC at 4:30 am and surprisingly there were no tears, think we got them all out the night before.  There were so many of us they had to put all of our luggage in a moving truck and use three coach buses...and they took at least three trips.  I tried to sleep on the hour trip to the airport, but how are you supposed to sleep when you're psyched out of your mind and headed to the greatest country ever, MEXICO!!! The plane rides didn't allow you to do anything because the turbulence was ridiculous, like a roller coaster.  When I called home my own mom didn't even recognize me...also a highlight of my trip ;)

We arrived in Mexico around 10:30 where we were met with huge hugs from our mission president's wife and high fives from the AP's.  We had an hour and a half ride to Cuernavaca and I was straight giddy the entire way!!! People tried to sleep, but the zone leaders came to the back of the bus and entertained me with hilarious stories and the view was amazing so I was set.  Instead of sleeping in the office that night with everyone else, Hermanas Sturt, Johnson, and i were assigned to go sleep with the sister training leaders.  When my comp, Hermana Chynoweth, heard that we were gonna be separated she burst into tears and refused to let go of my arm....the AP's were a little freaked out but it all worked out.  The next morning it took all my effort to focus on studies and not run outside and scream ¡Buenas Dias Mexico! I was psyched to find out where I would be serving and who my trainer would be.  So here it is: My trainer is Hermana Young from Texas and she's been in the mission for 5 months so its safe to say were figuring this out together but she's amazing and I couldn't have asked for anyone better.  Were in the Viveros Ward (which fun fact doesn't currently have a church building because its under construction. Instead we meet under a few tarps draped together surrounded on all sides by huge walls...can you say HOT!!!).  Its probably the best ward ever!!! We live in Oaxtepec, in a brand new house that we bought and our area covers 40 minutes out from our house into the country side.  It's a fabulous mix of EVERYTHING. Were kind of opening an area in a sense because they just split the Viveros area so there are two sets of missionaries here and the area we cover is the portion where missionaries didn't really go.  But like I said, were figuring it out and life couldn't be better.

The night we left Cuernavaca to head to our area (about an hour out) the lady we were buying the house from was mad because she hadn't received rent yet and was refusing to give us the keys so we called President to convince her.  Because we hadn't paid rent the furniture that was suppose to have been dropped off and set up earlier that day hadn't arrived so at 11:45 pm we were carrying furniture into our house and trying to set up beds.  All of my companion's stuff, Hermana Young, was still at her old house and the district leaders refused to let us leave...which included the other Viveros sisters who had accompanied us to our house.  We squished the two mattresses together and all four of us slept across them for our first night :) Did I mention that my apartment is beautiful?? That's the only word for it!! We have pretty pink walls and four rooms, FOUR (what on earth do we need with four rooms?!?!).  Minus plumbing, hot water, and air conditioning its probably the nicest place I've ever lived and there's not a bug in sight.

I've met some of the most amazing people ever that often amaze me with how strong their faith is.  I love how the people here don't find it weird at all to talk about God while were riding the bus or just walking down the street.  I literally talk to everyone  I see, better stated I attempt to talk to everyone I see.  I start the conversation and then turn to my comp like, ¨Here you go. Have at it.¨  In our lessons I say everything I want and if it doesn't make sense I can whisper to my comp what I meant and she translates it to the people for me.  I'm shocked everyday by how high my understanding level is and though my speaking level is nowhere near equal, I cant stop smiling because what is there not to smile about.  The greatest moment so far was when we were teaching a family and I got to talk about the first vision and then bare my testimony.  I was pretty sure what I said didn't make sense but then the mom AND the dad both expressed how thankful they were for us and how they simply felt joy in their hearts when I and my broken Spanish...if that isn't confirmation that this is the Lords work I seriously don't know what is!!!

Another amazing moment this week all started with a lady on the cambi (bus) who said she would meet with us but then gave us a street (which turned out to be 20 miles long) and no house number...basically a total burn, but we felt like we should look for it anyway.  We started walking down the street and were greeted by the joyful cry of ¡HERMANAS! Turns out there was a family of less actives who lived only a few houses down and they were thrilled to see the missionaries.  We met their neighbors and basically everyone on the street and are now teaching them all.  It was simply another confirmation that this is the Lords work.  And the joy in the grandmas eyes melted my heart.

I think our best lesson this week, for me at least, was with an 18 year old boy who is getting baptized next week. I had kind of been down all day cause I felt like something was missing from our lessons and I couldn't figure out what.  That night I realized that what was missing from our lessons was me, my personality, and in that lesson I some how had the words to make jokes and actually connect with him.  It made my day and I left the house thanking Heavenly Father.

The kids here are the best, members and nonmembers alike, they see us so often that now they run across the street to give us high fives and always scream hola as if they're afraid we wont notice them.  I love it because you don't have to speak the language to talk to children, smiles and funny faces is all you need to make a new best friend.

The food here is unreal, I cant even explain it to you and the members feed us a ton!!! My biggest Spanish fails have been with the simplest words and have left people laughing for days.  The other day I was trying to tell the 18 year old that he was the best and instead called him a woman (WHOOPS) and I asked a 12 year old if her sister was her daughter....which she proceeded to tell all 10 people in the store (the shame) no worries, I'll get there some day!!!

Sorry this is so long but I don't feel like I could truly adequately express my love for this place.  Today we played soccer for hours with our entire zone and it was a dream come true.  I have sunburn, my shoes have dug so far into my feet that you can almost see the bone, I cant speak the language, and sweating bullets, and yet none of that matters because this is the place and everything is simply amazing, scratch that BEYOND amazing!!!!

Hope your lives are just as great,
Share your joy with everyone you know,
So much love,
Hermana Neuberger

PS Real quick funny story: The boy who's mom runs the panadaria down the street from our house was talking to us the other day and he asked us if we were hungry.  We replied that we were fine.  He asked when we had last eaten and we said was 8.  His face was priceless, basically all shock.  When he found out all we had eaten was quesadillas (the best EVER BTW). He was even more shocked and then he asked super meekly, "Are you guys suffering?"  I died of laughter.  He invited us to come eat with his family, just the cutest thing EVER!!! basically I only eat one meal every day cause its so much i never want to eat again

Friday, March 14, 2014

Travel Plans Arrive

Wow I don't even know where to begin with this week.  It has certainly been the best week at the MTC so far and easily the best week of my mission.  How people don't just love the MTC I'll never understand. Everyone here is so happy and invigorated with the gospel they emanate pure joy 24/7.  I'll try to sum up all the positives of my week for you, but I think the most amazing thing to focus on is that next week when you read my blog it will be coming from an internet cafe somewhere around Cuernavaca, Mexico!!! How neat is that?!?!  I'm terrified to leave the MTC because so far this has simply felt like my mission, but at the same time a single word (in this case Mexico) has never filled me with so much excitement in my life! I don't even know the people yet and I already love them and can't wait to meet them.  Thank you for all your letters of support and encouragement, they ALWAYS put a smile on my face.  I know the Lord has continually blessed me with the greatest friends in my life and not a day goes by that I'm not thankful for each and every one of you!
Today I officially can't walk because we had the brilliant idea yesterday to do lunges from our apartment to the gym (about a 1/4 of a mile) and then do our 250 calves raises with the 30 pound weight.  To say my body no longer likes me would be the understatement of the century!  I'm pretty sure I've never been in better shape though.  Between our morning runs and our midday exercises we are officially on the MTC track of getting swoll!! For today though I'm pretty sure our workout will simply be walking which in itself is a struggle.  At the temple this morning when they asked if any elderly people needed to use the elevator I almost raised my hand to inform him that the youthful sisters on the second row might need assistance up the stairs.

I guess I'll just cover the biggest events of this week: Our district's lessons with Ivett, Both of our teachers are now engaged, and WE GOT OUR TRAVEL PLANS!!!!

So our teachers are engaged, not to each other, but holy cow happiness!  Hermano Rockwood got engaged a day before we arrived in the MTC, but since my companion is obsessed with weddings we have heard every detail about the proposal and how the wedding plans are going.  We actually ran into one of Hermano Rockwood's roommates who also works here and we actually knew more about the wedding then he did which was pretty hilarious.  Our other teacher, Hermana Christenson, got engaged Friday! She left Wednesday for a family vacation where her boyfriend surprised her at the hotel....i could probably go on for an hour over how cute it was but I'll refrain.  We found out early because our substitute told us the news but then faked like we didn't know so she could tell us everything.  She was simply glowing and even showed us the video after warning us that it wasn't allowed to disrupt our focus.  The best was after she told the whole story she bore her testimony about three simple things she knows to be true.  My favorite thing she said was "As you are true and faithful to your calling, God will write your story more beautifully then you could ever imagine it!" I love that.  I could not be more thankful for my teachers! I'm pretty sure I was placed in the district with the best teachers and everyone who works here always agrees.  I feel bad because they have officially seen us on both ends of the spectrum and everywhere in between from giddy out of our minds to fast asleep and yet they do an amazing job.  There lessons are amazing and always invite the spirit in great abundance.  I love the days when Hermano Rockwood has write whatever questions we have on the board and then goes through and talks about each one, literally opening up the scriptures to the perfect verses to help explain what we are asking.  I hope to one day know the scriptures and Preach My Gospel as well as he does...and to be as passionate about the gospel.  I have an entire page set aside in my journal where I write down one liners that our teachers say that strike me to the core and I'd love to share a few with all of you.  In reality I wish you could have been there for the entire experience but hopefully these quotes will inspire you as much as they inspired me.

It's not about what we do or what we say but about who we are that qualifies us for the work.  The moment we recognize it's not about us we can get past our fears and accomplish what we were called to do.  We don't want others to simply join our Church we want them to join Christ! When we teach the doctrine of Christ we show a person how much we truly love them.  You can not love a person more then bring them unto Christ! He [Christ] gave all so that we could give all to them. (these came from all different lessons but magically tied in together) -Hermano Rockwood

We don't knock on doors to find investigators, we knock on doors to show our obedience and then the Lord places those prepared individuals in our path!

I hope that in some way showed how solid my teachers are and if not I wish you could come here and experience the power of their words for yourself!

This week we also received our travel plans which is the first moment in my life where I truly realized I was going to Mexico.  Like I said before, the MTC feels like my mission and I sincerely feel as though I've been counting down the days till my mission, that is MTC days are over.  But the night we got our travel plans might have topped the moment I opened my mission call in excitement.  Us Hermanas were strolling around trying to decide what we were going to eat for dinner when we saw the leader of our district standing at the door of the cafeteria and waving us over with purple papers.  We instantly knew what that meant and ran over to him.  He made the smart decision of taking us all outside before finally handing over the papers.  I didn't even read it, I just started jumping, spinning, and throwing up fist pumps of victory because I already knew what it was. Sisters  Chynoweth, Sturt, and I all ran together and were high fiving and hugging like crazy....then we felt terrible and ran back to Sister Metler and gave her a huge hug (saying goodbye to her as she heads to Heromosillo and the rest of us go to Cuernavaca is going to be absolutely terrible).  Then we took a moment to actually read our flight plans and the next thing I knew my companion was in my arms, literally I was holding her, and she was screaming in my ear, I'M GOING TO GEORGIA!!!!!" Explanation: our flight plans take us all the way to Georgia, where we have a three hour lay over, and then to Mexico.  She's never been east of Utah so she's psyched out of her mind to head to the south, as if the airport really counts as being there.  But she's so excited it's kind of like Olaf and summer and I can't dash her hopes. There were tears, screams, and simply jubilant faces.  When we reentered the cafeteria everyone wanted to know what was up and we basically went around to every table to show them our papers.  The west campus MTC is extremely tight knit and I love it!

Last but not least my district had the amazing opportunity of teaching all together (yes all 8 of us) this week to a lady who is investigating the church from New York City.  She's been atheist her entire life so it was a completely new experience for all of us.  We taught her three days in a row and all the lessons ended up being in English because she wanted us to truly be able to understand her questions and actually be able to answer them.  We sang to her every lesson and the spirit was simply there.  She couldn't recognize the spirit but she always commented on how she loved when we came by because she could always feel our love for her, which she thought was crazy cause we really didn't even know her.  We really tried to show her that we were only emulating the love God has for her and wants her to recognize is all around her.  I can honestly tell you that as we taught her I saw change.  By the end of the third lesson she told us that she had finally opened herself up to the idea of believing in God and I don't think I've ever been so happy in my life.  I really do love her and know how much her Heavenly Father loves her.  I want nothing more in the world for her to realize this.  I can't wait to share the same message with all the people of Mexico.  Oh sweet the joy this sentences gives, I KNOW THAT MY REDEEMER LIVES!

Sorry this is so long, but I truly had a blessed week,
Hope all of your weeks were equally blessed,
In all you do focus on the good and then your day can be nothing but happy,
With tons of love,
Hermana Neuberger
Editor´s Note: This blog is literally being posted from Patagonia from a letter written in Provo, Utah about going on a mission to Mexico.  It´s because of the Patagonia part of this that this week´s posting is so late. The pictures she sent will have to wait until next week.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Hooray for Frontenac Frisbee Heritage!

HOLA everybody,

I guess I'll start off this email with a fun fact: I don't get mail on Saturdays, Sundays, or Monday mornings so on Monday nights I get all the weekend mail and feel loved out of my mind! Thank you for all your fabulous letters and updates.  I love each one and try to write back in the little time that I have!

Well gym time has become better then ever this week, sadly all the elders we normally do stuff with are leaving, but I'm excited for them and know that Argentina will be blessed to have them.  While we were playing volleyball this week I ran to save a ball and made a wild hit that certainly wasn't' going to improve the situation when it ricocheted off the light and sailed over the net, just barely hitting in.  Basically ESPN top 10 worthy, just saying.  I also found a frisbee in a closet this week and took it with me to gym time.  My fabulous companions agreed to throw it around with me and I was happier then happy!! The next day we threw it around again and slowly elders started joining in.  Pretty soon we had 20 people in a circle so we decided to play monkey in the middle.  I don't think I've ever had so much fun at gym time.  FRISBEE IS AMAZING!!!! I bless the Frontenac ward name each day when I hear the Elders calling me legit.  Boy am I thankful for that heritage and my ability to throw a frisbee...and to be able to catch one while were at it.  I might also leave the MTC more in shape then when I came.  Sister Melter and I wake up every morning and run two miles, then during gym time (before frisbee) we run up an elliptical mountain for 20 minutes and then do 10 minutes of abs and 5 of arms! Then again my exercise might not save me from the mountain of food that is enveloping our apartment.  Basically my three companions get at least two packages a week and we do all we can to hand it out to others so it doesn't end up in our kitchen.  We currently have 10 bags of popcorn, 2 gallon ziplocks of homemade carmel corn, a loaf of banana bread, three things of pringles, three bags of chips with queso and salsa, 12 bags of assorted candy, two giant party size m&m bags, a giant swedish fish bag, 2 dozen cookies, peppermint bark, fudge, grapes, carrots, apples, strawberries, 2 packages of oreos, and so many other little random things I can't even describe it all to you.  We are super good about giving it away or watching others consume it but naturally we eat some too....every night.  My clothes still fit perfectly so I feel like I'm okay.  Momma Sturts cooking is to die for!!! Her gingerbread cookies she sent made my mouth water.  Basically since all my roommates are from Utah home backed goods aren't a problem to send cause they get here in two days....I'm just craving Dad's salsa.

BTW On the way back from gym I always uphold the Neuberger family tradition by doing parcore off all of the rocks and the one day I skipped the hermanas made me go back and do it cause apparently it's a highlight of their day.  it's good to know that if I brake my ankle, it will only  be to brighten others lives ;)

Every time I attempt to speak Spanish and know I'm epicly failing, I picture Rogelio smiling and shaking his head at me right behind my investigator.  If you want to talk about the gospel I can stumble through and tell you quite a lot....ask me about my house and i go mute!!! All my words are gospel focused, exactly the way it should be, but it certainly make it more interesting when we get down to Mexico....IN TWO WEEKS!!!!

At the devotional this Sunday they had us stand and sing the EFY medley which many of you are familiar with.  The best part about the MTC though is that they changed the words.  Instead of singing as sisters in Zion we sing The sisters of Zion.  Basically all the words have been changed by the lady who originally wrote the song to talk specifically about missionary work and they're extremely powerful.  I also love that when we sing army of Helaman the words change to, "and we are now the Lord's missionaries".  The entire thing is extremely powerful and while I stood there singing it with thousands of other missionaries I couldn't stop beaming and feeling the spirit that was so tangible in the room.  We truly are the Lord's missionaries called to bring the world HIS truth! I know that my calling is sure and I know there is nothing I'd rather be doing with my time then bringing the light of the gospel into other's lives.

This week we were suppose to teach a new investigator as an entire district, yes all 8 of us at once, but the lady didn't show up.  We were pretty bummed because 8 of us + 1 investigator we were certain would equal instant conversion.  I was really worried about how we would possibly unified as an entire district trying to teach one lesson.  Because the lady didn't show up my teacher decided to be a new investigator for us.  The lesson started out really rough, no one knew what to say and everyone was pretty worried to talk because they thought someone else might jump in instead.  But we slowly got the flow down and then the spirit kicked in.  I don't think my district has ever been so united!! There were moments where we'd all reach for our scriptures to look up the same verse without even saying anything.  At the end of the lesson we sang nearer my God to thee in four part harmony and everyone was in tears by the end. Everything we had been saying before was simply words, but there was no denying the spirit that filled the room as we started to sing.  I know that I am nothing without the spirit and that I cannot teach without his guidance and help.  The spirit is the true teacher and I am only the tool.  Our true purpose as missionaries is to help others recognize that in their lives because once they recognize the line connecting them to Heavenly Father, everything else simply falls into place! 

It's simply been another fabulous week of happiness and joy,
Love you all!!!
Hermana Neuberger