Monday, September 29, 2014

Still Swimming

Whelp I ALWAYS do that! I promise amazing stuff for next week.....and then I cant even imagine/think about what it was I was going to tell.  Whoops!  One thing that I for sure thought about a lot this week, or maybe better put finally understand, is why the FBI and CIA love hiring people from BYU so much.  We are all natural finders.  The mission trains us super well.  We go out every morning with the goals to find so and so and such and such and we don't come home till we've found them.    Lets just also throw in the fact that Tepoztlan is the worst numbered pueblo in the world so finding anybody on a good day takes expert skills. I love the surprise on peoples faces when they open the door and are like, "how on earth did you find me!?" All I can think of to say is, ".....well you gave us your direction.....and we have time...." I just love how that's truly our goal here, to find those who want to hear more about the gospel.  We're here to find so that we can also share the great gift that we have.

Really quick recap of my bday: A family that I love (even more now that I have 5 weeks in this area) invited me over for a bday meal....where we ate everything Mexican.  There were quesadillas, sopes, tostados, tacos, y empanadas and wow was mind blowing good! After that they brought out the cake.  During this whole party two other families called saying they had something special for my bday and that I should come to their house.....and the family I was with stole the phone both times to inform the other families that they had won....awesome!! After the cake, the little girls put in their Disney sing along disk and a lot of dancing and singing ensued.  Basically I really cant think of a more perfect bday experiencia.  And then afterwards we quickly passed by the other two houses where we recieved more cake and happiness.  I love the people here! They're just soooo amazing!

Tepoztlan is certainly hard to describe, it's certainly not easy.  The work here is really slow, but things are growing in a way that puts a smile on my face.  This week we finally had new people to teach and it felt so good to finally teach again that I didn't want the appointments to end.  But at the same time finding all of these less actives that have lost connection with the church is truly rewarding.  I find myself becoming more and more involved everyday and sometimes it certainly stresses me out but all is well.  There's so much to do I just have to do it one step at a time. The works slow, but there's so much work to do that I'm not complaining.  Right now we are trying to find every less active on the ward list and we have had quite a lot of success. The less actives that we find every day are truly thankful for our visits cause they haven't had contact with the church for years.  Being back to square one is a crazy humbling experience but its truly amazing and powerful to have my testimony of what this area can truly become! I can see the big picture because I've been here before.  I truly think that's the way it is in every moment of our life, we can see the big picture, the struggle is trying to find out how exactly we are going to finally make it there and color in each part. That's why God's plan is perfect! We know all the steps and the possible future results but we have to fill in the middle parts with our actions and what we put into it.  The overall picture/plan of our Heavenly Father is super clear but he leaves us the task of coloring in each piece day by day.  I'm grateful for the struggle and the effort it takes on my part cause that's certainly when i have the greatest chance to grow. 

Hermana Neuberger

Monday, September 22, 2014

This I Know

On Saturday morning I phoned Hermana Kusch from the doctor's office where Hermana Hernandez was having her eyes examined (it's still pretty bad, but were resting it).  I thought we were just going to talk about my companion, but I also received some shocking news of my own.  Grandpa Neuberger had passed away.  It wasn't a sudden surprise, we were all aware that his time was short, but the news still took me back for a minute.  In his current state my grandpa truly had no idea who I was but that never changed for a moment how much I loved him or all the times that we shared together.  My instant reaction was shock as the news hit me like ice and a few tears slipped out with a gasp.  But as instantly as that hit another feeling washed over me more powerful then the first. Arms of comfort enveloped me and I felt a tremendous peace.  In the words of Elder Holland, "I testify that angels are still sent to help us...usually such beings are not seen.  Sometimes they are.  But seen or unseen they are ALWAYS near!" I know my grandpa is now here beside me.

One of the greatest messages we get to share with people each and everyday is that of the plan of Salvation.  Indeed we are here on earth for a purpose to experience the true joys of life.  While every life is different,we all suffer different trials, each of us can be aware of our divine destiny as sons and daughters of God.  Though we are separated from Him for a season we will find incredible joy in the day when we get to see Him once again face to face.  That is the message of joy we share: life has
purpose and not only now but for the eternities!

There is one person who is central to this plan, without whom none of this would be possible, our Savior and Brother Jesus Christ.  Many people know that Christ died for us but don't understand the true significance of those words. Jesus Christ willingly died for us and in doing so opened the gate so that we might once again live with our beloved Father in Heaven.  Because He lives we don't have to face the future hopeless because we truly know that death is not the end.  When Christ rose once again from the tomb on the third day, he opend the way that we all might also be resurrected.  In doing so the grave has no victory.  Truly we will live again.  Not just me. Not just you, but every mortal being will have this opportunity.  And in that day we will be made perfect, glorified, and whole.

Though my grandfather left this earth in a broken vessel, he is not that way now.  Yes, he is indeed in a better place as people often say.  That better place is the spirit world where he might rest for a time before the Savior comes again.  Though I'll miss my grandfather more then words can express, I know I will see him again.  I know it! I also know that he will be in perfect form and quickness of mind ready to continue on in the work of the Lord whatever that calling may be.  I know that through the priesthood power of God, that my family can be and indeed will be together for all eternity.  Yes, the time without him will be tough, but the thought of eternity brings me great joy, because its safe to say that's a truly long time.

I know that my grandfather is walking beside me.  The Lord never intended for us to be left alone.  "In times of special need, God sent angels, divine messengers, to bless His children, reassure them that heaven was always very close and that His help was always very near." Each of us has our own angels in our lives.  Some of them or very real and come as the people we know.  And then their are those unseen,sent from the other side of the veil to lift us up,stand by our side, fight our battles, fill us with comfort, and help us carry on.  I am truly grateful for the truly remarkable amount of angels in my life.  Each and everyone of you truly are an angel sent from up above to help morph me in to the person I am today.  I hope that for a moment I could be an angel in your life and help brighten a day.  The Lord has truly blessed me with the greatest friends, teachers and family I could ever ask for.  Each person a unique angel of guidance, comfort laughter,joy, peace, strength, endurance, confidence and more then anything love!  But more then that I'm grateful for the unseen angels in my life who though I can't physically see, I know they're there.  I'm not alone, I have never been alone.  One day I will have the opportunity to see my grandpa again, to give him a hug and talk for hours...but for now I take great joy and strength that he is here by my side guiding me on.

I am truly grateful for this gospel in my life.  For the knowledge, strength, and comfort it gives me during hard times, but more importantly for the joy and pure happiness it gives every day of every minute of every week! The Church is true!

I SWEAR I'll tell about my birthday and all the in between next week!!!!
So much love :)

Sorry Dad. You're gonna have to edit this like crazy because the space bar doesn't work on this computer like half the time and I wrote this in 10 minutes and don't have time to check it ;)
Editor's Note: It was kind of like a word puzzle, but I think I got it fixed.


Hermana Neuberger

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Change Up

Well naturally the week that I had a thousand things to share also happened to be the week of my birthday and I had 85 messages in my inbox....THANK YOU FOR ALL THE BDAY WISHES!!!!! I consider myself blessed to know you all.  I tried my best to reply to all of them but if i missed one just know how much I appreciated it!

First off read this: (truly this is amazing!!!!)

Second of all: WOW MIRACLES HAPPEN WHEN YOU JUST BELIEVE!!!!! Some of you recieved my complaint email from last week and know that in reality things here in Tepoztlan are crazy difficult.....SCRATCH THAT....better said things here in Tepoztlan just needed a little push to really start getting the ball rolling! We had branch council for the first time in 3 years this Sunday and it was extremely effective.  I was so excited that we could get everyone there and participating that I couldn't stop smiling during the whole thing.  I also couldn't stop smiling all Sunday when 10 less actives that we had contacted that week showed up to church.  Yup, were hopefully now 10 stronger ;) I was also called on to speak in church (supresa!) and, not to give myself a pat on the back, spoke for 10 minutes about the power of hope using an Uchtdorf talk I had read that morning and other random scriptures.  The thing I'm not aware of is how many people understood...oh well, I try :) Before I got here they couldn't find anyone who wanted to feed the everyone in the branch is trying to get on the calender more then once a week and always telling us that if we need anything to stop by their house.  A lady in our branch is buying us shoes because she just wants to show how much she loves us (and because the holes in my shoes are so large i can stick my hand through).  AND the greatest lady ever in our branch must have my mother's number because she called me this morning and invited me over to her house for a birthday meal and cake! THANKS MOM ;)

Third thing: I made a LOT of realizations this week! Realization one: MY COMP IS TAYLOR VOELKER TO A TEE! Yup be jealous :) Realization two was that Matt Olsen would love to live here.....if you know Matt Olsen I hope that now gives you a better idea of what this place is like! 

Fourth thing: Everyday I'm from a different country, but never the United States.  I love how people look at me and instantly know I'm from the US.  They try to speak to me in English and I pretend that I don't understand.  That confuses them so much it always gives me a good laugh. I've recently tested out telling people I'm from Mexico...and they believe me!

Whelp I have sooooo much more to share but time's up!!
Love you all soooo very much and I promise real stuff and pictures next week

Monday, September 8, 2014

Hang Loose, Man

Id like to start out by trying to explain my new area a little bit more so everyone can get the true feel of what I'm living and then, yes Dad, I'll answer ALL your questions.  Tepoztlan is a huge tourist attraction because of the pyramid ruins that are at the top of one of the mountains...excuse me hills according to the locals.  For some reason I have yet to discover, because no one knows the answer, there is a huge Indian influence/hippy influence/EuropeanFrench influence.  In essence the result is a mix of confusion and some pretty outlandish styles with cute little cafes mixed in.  It's safe to say that I now know where all the hippies migrated too after flower power died out...because some of these people are rather old.  Tepoztlan is built on what in Mexico is only considered to be a steep hill, so basically I live on a mountain.  I've officially labeled the map in skier fashion and do my best to avoid all the double black diamond runs that seem to come up all too often.  Safe to say my calves will be huge by the time I leave this area just from taking the hike to church each Sunday.  The streets are SUPER old and Mexican cobblestoned so I've biffed it real good a few times! One of my favorite parts about Tepoztlan (which I might have commented on last week) is that its famous for Tepozt Nieve, a huge ice cream parlor!!!!! They have over 200 flavors and there's one big one and then 20 little ones on every corner....well you know how Neubergers are about ice cream, but I've been surprisingly good at resisting.  Fun fact: my favorite flavor right now is Mil Flores which is frozen yogurt with a bunch of flower petals mixed in and a little bit of white chocolate (RIQUÍSIMO!!!!!).  It rains about everyday so there are a ton of streams running through the city and moss everywhere with huge trees and a ton of greenery.  Basically it's crazy beautiful and reminds me a lot of Colorado (that one place we visited as a family when we were really little).  Another huge plus is that there are wild fruit trees and blackberries EVERYWHERE so I now have a free collection of guava in my fridge and eat handfulls of blackberries on my way to appointments.

I live in what i feel like is a hotel because its just that crazy nice...we're also the only ones who live in the entire building.  There are four of us and I kind of feel like I'm doing the whole apartment/college thing all over again.  In my greatest dreams Sisters Chynoweth and Sturt would be here as my companions (the trio we want to happen so badly) and Capener and Ferb would be the other companionship living with us.  But clearly President has something else in mind for all of day!  My comp's name is Hermana Hernandez.  Shes 26 years old and from Tobasco, Mexico.  She has three siblings but they are all older and married and have families.  She's super short, but amazing things come in small packages and it's the same with her! My comp and I are the only ones that work in Tepoztlan.  Though the other sisters live with us they ship out to their area everyday.  Their ward is just big enough to be classified as a ward but they have a beautiful church that actually happened to be the first one built in Morelos (cool fun fact)!  The closest other elders to my area are either an hour and a half away (by bus) in Cuernavaca, 45 minutes away by cambi in Yautepec (my first District Leader, Elder Bethancourt), or a little less then 2 hours away in Casasanos (my old district leader, Elder Maradiaga).  I think the closest sisters are the ones who took over Oaxtepec when I left....sorry Mom!  Here in town there's a whole lot of drinking and other fun substances going down, but that's just Mexico and I feel pretty safe!

I have to admit my first Sunday was super hard here because I super missed all the familiar faces and amazing families of my past ward in dear old Oaxtepec.  Plus I'm once again in a house of prayer instead of a chapel.  Church started and there were about 10 people there. By the end of Sacrament there were about 30 at the most, 6 of them being people we brought.  I looked at the empty chairs around me and just thought, "HOLY COW THERE'S A LOT OF WORK TO BE DONE HERE!!!" This Sunday was Fast Sunday, being the first Sunday of the month and that simply was able to lighten my spirits like nothing before.  We might be super, super small here in Tepoztlan, but when the members bore their testimonies there was nothing small about it.  There was power in their words and conviction in their eyes.  They knew it and they wanted everyone else to know it.  The cool part about only having so few people is that everyone had the chance to bare their testimony. At first when church had started I greatly wondered why they don't just combine the barely a ward that's in San Andres with the branch in Tepoztlan, but as we gathered in our little room with the seven other members of the relief society I realized how little it mattered.  The spirit was there and it was something you could feel and recognize during the entire church services. A scripture kept coming to mind, "where one or two are gathered in my name, there I will be also"

There is literally never a spare moment/moment to loose here because there's always a MA to find and a billion people to contact in the street. My companion is amazing! She literally has no fear to talk to everyone, and so she does. With all of our investigators she always lays out our purpose to make sure this is something they really want and also so they realize all the blessings. She might not know all the little things about mission life or how to do the numbers but she can teach with power and conviction that is unmatched which I think is simply amazing. We have naturally had a ton of Spanish speaker English speaker confused conversations where neither of us knows whats going on, but it always ends with a good laugh. She is for sure a fabulous addition to the area and I think her age helps. She has a greater desire to learn every aspect of mission life so she can do everything right! It's gonna be a great 5 more weeks :)

I truly am glad for my chance to work here in Tepoztlan. I'll be honest, there were a few times yesterday where I wanted to jump on a cambi or run back to my old area (which is really close) where people would be waiting with open arms, but then I remembered how it wasn't always that way. I had to make it through a few weeks of no investigators and not knowing anyone in the ward to make it to the end result of tearful goodbyes. To every end there has to be a beginning and this new beginning, though rocky at times, has a Heavenly Father blessed/promised result. Therefore I have a sure faith in the future. In the words of Elder Uchtdorf, "In light of what we know about our eternal destiny, is it any wonder that whenever we face the bitter endings of life, they seem unacceptable to us? Because we are made of the stuff of eternity. Endings are not our destiny. The more we learn about the gospel of Jesus Christ, the more we realize that endings here in mortality are not endings at all. They are merely interruptions—temporary pauses that one day will seem small compared to the eternal joy awaiting the faithful. How grateful I am to my Heavenly Father that in His plan there are no true endings, only everlasting beginnings."

I truly am grateful for all that my Heavenly Father has in store for me here! For the new families we found last week and who made it to church.  For their pure desires to know Gods plan for them.  For my dear companion.  And for all those truly amazing people in Oaxtepec who told me to call them if I ever needed anything, no matter where I was, and they would ALWAYS come running for me.  What a happy reunion it will be to see them all again one day, but for now its time to make the memories here!!!

With so much love,
Hermana Neuberger

Monday, September 1, 2014

So Many Changes

I have so many things to tell, but I think it would be best to sum them all up first and then describe them later:
1. I'M TRAINING!!!!!!! (and the story of my reaction is now a misión legend)
2. I'm no longer in Oaxtepec
3. I had to say goodbye to Hermana Fernelius
4. Mission life is just spectacular
6. I'M SERVING IN ???????!!!!!!!!

Hermana Fernilius and her B-day cake
I'd love to comment on crazy awesome things that happened with our investigators this week.....but I didn't bring my agenda so I really can't remember what all went down this week other then the fact that people are awesome.  If you think I say that too much then you need to get out more and meet everyone around you.  Trust me, then you'll be saying it too! We were all about trying to get 100 lessons this week if it was even possible, but we promised not to add it up until Saturday night so it would be a surprise if we hit our goal.  Safe to say it was one of the best surprises of the night and we celebrated with funnel cake (Yes Cara Debellis, I have mastered how to make funnel cake like a boss, so I'm ready to try again with you soon ;D) and other random activities. It was also Hermana Fernelius' b-day this week and it was apparently the most celebrated b-day she's ever had.  She was psyched about all the decorations and then Hermana Flores made her a b-day cake at comida! It was all gonna be so perfect....but then I had to leave for Cuernavaca and missed the party they had planned that night with the other Viveros sister missionaries as well as Moho, and other members.  It's all good though.  It's a birthday she will never forget which makes me happy.  Plus we had cake in our fridge for the rest of the week, so you can never argue with that :)  (Actually, I found out when I weighed myself in the offices on Friday that I'm actually losing weight...I'm pretty sure that's contra to all the rules of biology, but that's fine by me)

But the story I know you are all holding out for is why I am now a legend, well you see what happen was.....Wednesday night we were about to head to bed, all happy and joyful with sugar plums in our heads, because we had not received a call from the AP's, so we thought that neither of us was going to be training or transferred.  Fact number one: never celebrate until there is for sure no chance that something can happen.  At 9:50 a random number called us, Hermana Fernelius answered and the conversation went down something like this:
"Buenas Noches"
"Can I talk to Hermana Neuberger?"
"Ummmmm sure....Comp it's for you"
Me: "Hello, who is this?"
"Hey Hermana, just wanted to let you know that you'll be training.  This is Elder Arrington."
With that I screamed, "No!", threw down the phone, burst into tears, and ran out of the room.....yeah, just a little over dramatic.  My comp ran after me and tried to calm me down as I kept crying about how unprepared I am, how I don't know Spanish well enough, how I never want to train, and other random things.  The entire time Elder Arrington was still on the phone like, um .....hello?" My comp lied to him and said I was just super excited, but he didn't buy it at all.  I had to leave Thursday night so I could be in Cuernavaca Friday morning for the trainers' meeting.  I was close to tears the entire night in Cuernavaca because I was so terrified, but the two other sisters who are also training calmed me down by simply being awesome.  We then got another call that we had to unlock the gate for one more person who was coming to be a trainer and also would be spending the night with us.  AND GUESS WHO THAT BRILLIANT RAY OF SUN WAS!?!?!?! Hermana Sturt came walking through the door and I burst into happy tears because I haven't seen her beautiful face in almost 5 months! Well the night was just smashing after that :) The meeting the next morning was amazing and I found out about my new companion and all of a sudden was just really excited, still super nervous, but super excited.  I also later found out that all the office Elders and President and Sister Kusch new all about my reaction because Elder Arrington claimed the experience was, "too golden not to share!"

Transfers are way different now because recently there have been problems with creepy men.  In the last week they had to emergency transfer 10 sister missionaries (Sturt and Chynoweth being two of them) because creepy men went looking for/and found them.  There were also a few hermanas being followed by men with yeah Mexico's great.  President asked the First Presidency to stop sending American sisters if they could and possibly sisters all together just for a little while till they figure everything out.  Anyway, therefore for these transfers everything was on lock down! Nobody knew where they were headed only when they were suppose to be at the bus station.  They also sent everyone out in shifts, instead of everybody arriving at the bus station at the same time.  No one knew who their companions were going to be either so the whole thing was super top secret, which in misión terminology means that there was a whole lot of gossiping going down.  Basically no one truly knows where any other missionary is assigned, but there are a lot of super educated guesses!!! The biggest shock was when we found out that Hermana Fernelius would not be staying in Oaxtepec! Turns out they're bringing the sister training leaders  there (the new assignment that's equal to AP for sister missionaries).  We freaked out for a solid hour over that and then drew maps of every part of our area with streets and all the houses of our MA, investigators, and members  We also wrote super detailed notes so that they would literally know everything.

Warm Goodbyes
It was super super hard to say goodbye to everyone on Sunday.  The Viveros Ward is my family. but I'll for sure be going back one day! There were a few tears, a ton of pictures, and some of the nicest comments anyone has ever said to me, and then we walked into the sunset!  Packing was a mess, you would never believe how much stuff Hermana Fernilius has, but some how we made it work.  The Flores (have i ever mentioned that she's the sister of Presidente de Hoyos...of the Seventy! Sorry it just feels like knowing someone famous) gave us a ride to the bus station.  Saying goodbye to my rock star companion was easily one of the hardest things I've ever done!!! Seriously don't know what I'm gonna do without her and hope her next area is just amazing where ever that may be! We created a list of all of our inside jokes and it hit 100.  We just kept reading it again and again and laughing our heads off.  There have been so many memories made in Oaxtepec that for me it will always be holy ground!!

View from the area
When I found out from my crazy amazing, Tabasco loving greenie companion that our area was _______ I jumped for joy.  And BTW she's really from Tabasco, MX. Ever since the first P-day I visited, I've ALWAYS wanted to serve here and it's been on my mind ever since I heard about transfers.  The best part is it touches my old area.  It's literally on a "hill" (the American equivalent of a mountain) and just super green with trees everywhere!   I really just can't express how excited I am!!!!

I guess the thing I'm most grateful for about my entire misión is the chance I have to meet so many fabulous people on a daily basis. Hermana Fernelius did some figuring and in the last 6 weeks we contacted over 700 people. It's moments of realization like that that always put a smile on my face. When people ask what my overarching goals are in life I always answer with, "I want to change somebody's life for the better and to just make a difference in the world." Now I see that that basically sums up missionary work. In an Ensign I recently read there was a story about a young man in Korea who handed a mail man a pamphlet one day really fast as they were walking by. Unknown to the missionary, five years later the man read the pamphlet and was later converted to the Gospel. In the course of 40 years, 50 members of his family were also baptized after receiving their own conversion. Wow, missionary work is truly amazing! After reading that story, I look back on the days where it felt like we accomplished nothing because all of our appointments fell but then I remember that we still talked to 20 people. Those 20 people one day might find great solace in the things and pamphlets we gave them. I'm just so very grateful for all the amazing people I've met here, for my new friends and family here in Mexico, and for this great work that I get to share with others. There is no greater impact we can have in others' lives then watching the light of the Gospel brighten it. I'm so grateful for Hermana Fernilius who made me feel like a true missionary more then I could ever express!!

My the Lord continue to brighten your lives!
Hermana Neuberger