Monday, December 29, 2014

What Didn't Happen?

I am about to recount the greatest week of my missionary life!!!! I hope my sheer giddiness doesn't show too much ;) This week seems like a month because so much happened and I'm now living 4 hours away from Tepoztlan...but we'll get there in a moment.

Monday - After I finished sending my email home and finished yet another P day, we found ourselves with time to fill and no appointments.  As missionaries, when times like these come the only thing to do is get on your knees and ask the Lord for His guidance that you can make those hours worthwhile, and boy were they worthwhile! We ended up going to Ocotes to knock the doors of two references (for the 100th time) and, MIRACLE, they were both home and ready to hear our message.  We also found out that for one of them we were actually knocking the wrong door, but the women who lived there invited us in and was super excited to listen.  We then were walking through the square at the end of the night and I felt impressed to contact a woman in the three minutes that we had.  Turns out it was Gloria, an  old investigator that we had been trying to find at home repeatedly for two weeks.  Gosh, it was such a good day!

Because it was Christmas eve/Christmas nobody wanted to talk to the missionaries, or were on vacation, or had all their family in town, but it was okay because (like so many other missionaries across the world) we took to the streets caroling for everyone and knocking the doors of everybody we knew.  I'm pretty sure I've never had a more rewarding Christmas.  It sure wasn't white, but it was raining cats and dogs all Christmas eve and about 50 degrees so we found almost everyone in their homes with ALL their family because the parties at the Catholic churches were canceled! (huge blessing and miracle). The people were thrilled to see us. Safe to say that caroling isn't a thing here, so nobody knew what we were up to but the Latin comps took to it like it was a totally natural thing and just loved it.  We ended every visit with a joyful chorus of "we wish you a merry Christmas" just like back home.  Safe to say I had the biggest smile on my face the entire time!!!! By the end of the night we had so much candy in our bags that we just started giving it away to random strangers cause there wasn't room.  We also had about 7 sweaters and 2 umbrellas that were borrowed from members and MA that were worried about our health being soaked through in the rain ;)

The real drama went down Christmas day at 10:30 in the morning, Albino Ortego, #14, Tepoztlan, Morelos, Mexico.  We were headed to make our first rounds of caroling when the phone rang....and in the process of pulling it out of my bag I dropped it, sending the pieces in different directions, and ending the call.  "hope that wasn't important" were the joking words that came out of my mouth, oh how little I knew.  Instantly the phone of the other sisters began to ring, "......ummmm it's the zone leaders asking for you Hermana Neu" WHAT?!?! "Hermana Neuberger?" "yes?" "Pack your bags, you re shipping out tomorrow morning from Civac at 9:30" WHAT?!?! I managed to hide all my shock and surprise and then lie to everyone that he was just asking about our plans, don't know why they ever believed that.  The day passed just as fabulous as Christmas eve! After lunch we ran to the president's (of the branch) house to skype our families and they had everything ready.  I wish I had a video of the Neuberger shenanigans that went down in the hour that we were trying to get the skype to work because they were priceless and soooo labeled my family that I was almost in tears about how perfect it was.  First there was no sound, then there was no video, and then, when we had tried the laptop and tablet with no success and were going to resort to a phone call the skype decided to magically work! What a great chat/dance party/giggle fest with the greatest family ever! Everything was super great until I told my family that I was transferring, in English, while my non-english speaking comp and the other Latin comp that lives with us were sitting near by. Later, my family brought it back up again.....but there were English speakers in the room and they freaked out, leading to a Latin freak out when they found out what was going on....and then a lot of tears. The night was REALLY REALLY REALLY rough to say the least.  My comp refused to leave my side and I couldn't get her to crack a smile.  Words cannot describe how much I love that girl and how much I'm going to miss her! Truly my "daughter" that one, and I know she's going to just keep being a spectacular missionary! That night we all slept together with  7 blankets on top of us and it was the first good night sleep in days because we weren't all shivering to death!

The next morning, we showed up to the church to find a group of 30 Elders....and I was kind of wondering if the whole thing was a joke of some sort.  All the Elders were so happy and shouting with joy and it was the Zapata gang, so basically all the coolest American Elders, so I got crazy animated off their excitement AND THEN FOUND OUT WE WERE HEADED BACK TO GUERRERO!!!!!! 

A little bit of history for those who have forgotten or don't know, three months ago they took all of the missionaries out of Guerrero due to civic unrest on the account of 43ish students that went missing on their way from Chilpo to Iguala (might need to check those facts cause I'm also forgetting).  There were huge riots and a whole lot of problems, so for safety all of the LDS missionaries serving in this mission were sent to the state of Morelos (where I have always served and never left).  

So at the chapel on Friday, once things got a little settled down, all the companions not being transfered had left, and more hermanas had showed up, they called us into the chapel where President Kusch gave us a brief devotional and then told us our new areas! "Hermana Neuberger, you will be serving with Hermana Garcia in the Area of Aeropuerta, Chilpancingo...its one of the most amazing wards in all of the mission, enjoy" YES, SIR!!!! So I hope you can imagine how the 4 hourish bus ride to Chilpo was.  There are now 34 missionaries in the state of Guerrero (4 in Iguala, 10 in Chilpo, and 20 in Acapulco) of which only four are sisters (WOW).  We took a private bus with all the missionaries that would  first pass through Chilpo and then on to Acapulco. What a great trip it was!

They dropped us on the side of the road in Chilpo where we all waved frantically goodbye and wished each other the best of luck.  Our zone leaders/district leaders started giving directions and sent us in all directions.  We ended up at the house of our bishop, who then drove us to our house.....where we remembered that to open a door keys are very necessary, and keys were not something we had.  The keys to our house were still in Cuernavaca....small overlooked detail. We are currently living in Heroico (shout out to Elder Stutz), thank goodness there are other sisters here in Chilpo! I think the only way to describe my new ward is missionary paradise! I feel honored to be here.  The people here are so excited to have missionaries again that we have been invited to so many things we don't even have time.  Due to the fact that we don't have keys to our apartment we don't have access to any of the information about old investigators or anything, but that was not at all a problem.  The bishop sat us down and started giving us a list of people to go see and members who could help us get there and take us around.  Basically the last two days have reminded me a ton of a Sunday in Brazil with my family when we passed by the house of one member, who went with us to the house of another member, and then we went to another house gaining more people as we went.  Words just cant even come to describe how amazing the people are here and this ward (whistle) Heaven!!!!

Our Bishop is part of a family that has their own street, and they're all members. They cover two different wards, with the ward boundaries running right down their privada.  Every Sunday night they have an FHE with the whole family, more then 70 people and last night we were invited. COOLEST THING EVER!!!! I'm so in love with how amazing this family is and think it would be pretty cool to do something like this in the future with my own family....but only if we can live in Mexico or Brazil ;)

I cannot even begin to express how happy I am, how hot it is, how fabulous this ward is, how lost we are, and how much excitement is pumping through my veins with every hour of every minute of every day!!!!! We just want to get out there and work (we actually worked this morning instead of taking a Pday) so that we can show the ward that were going to match their awesomeness.  I have never felt so blessed in my life!

With so much love,
Hermana Neuberger

Monday, December 15, 2014

Funny Thing

I'm sorry to report that there is not a whole lot to report about this week because we spent three days living in we had about two days to work.

FUN FACT: My comp (dear little Hna Hernandez) is DEATHLY afraid of cows.  I'm pretty sure I have never seen anything funnier in my life!!!!  It's also a fabulous experience because when are there not cows in the street? Let me try and paint the picture for you of how it usually goes down.  So we're walking down a beautiful country lane, laughing and joking, nobody in sight when we walk around a corner and bam, there in front of us are 4 to 8 cows munching on the grass on the side of the road.  Instantly my comp freezes and is like, "oh no, oh no, oh no! Espera Hermana, espera! Alguien va a venir a ayudarnos." (Wait, Sister, Wait! Someone is going to come and help us) Ayudarnos con que? (Help us with what?) Was my question the first time this went down. They're just cows.  Basically it ends up with me walking closer towards the cows dragging my comp who is clinging to my arm just begging me to stop and flinching like crazy every time the cows move.  We finally get passed them and she instantly starts consoling me, "VĂ©ase, no pasa nada" (See, nothing happened).  I need a video of it!

Soooo really thats my whole week basically, I'm super sorry. Enjoy the pics instead
Hermana Neuberger
Our Christmas Tree

The hike above the city

Just making pinatas

Our new zone jerseys

Monday, December 8, 2014

Where There Is Faith There Are Always Miracles

First off, not to brag or anything, but I have the most amazing family on the planet.  No joke. No lie. No discussion. I was thinking about all the amazing things we've done together and I'm just beyond amazed.  The things we're doing don't even matter, we could just be at home, but the joy that we experience together is unmatched and truly fantastic. I'm more then ever grateful for all of our fabulous Christmas traditions.  Mom, you would be pleased to know that your Christmas traditions have not been wasted on me.  The people of Tepoztlan have been very touched with the simple box that says "Eternal life, with love, Jesus Christ".  There are times where I hand it to people when we're contacting and I fear that I'm not ever going to get it back because they just love it so much.  That is certainly a Neuberger tradition that I cherish with all my heart!

On a funny note: recently people have been freaking out when I tell them that I from Missouri.  The conversation usually goes something like this:
"You're from in the United States?!"
"WOW, it's like crazy dangerous there.  I heard recently on the news that people are like shooting people and stuff and that the whole city is having a huge riot!"
I just look at the people and start laughing.  HELLO, WE'RE IN MEXICO!!!! But it sure makes me smile that people are worried about what's going up in my state when the neighboring state of Guerro is currently facing similar problems and it's only a 100 miles away.  Got to love the people here!

More then anything this week I'm beyond grateful for miracles!!! I truly know that the Lord will never leave us alone, He will always be there to help us overcome.  I'm beyond grateful for the opportunity that we had to fast this week.  And I know that the power of the Lord is stronger then anything that we can do.  We have an investigator named Ana that we've been teaching now for about a month.  We found her by accident one day when we were trying to find the home of a MA.  To say that she lives in the middle of nowhere would be an understatement! But anyway she has the most amazing spirit about her and has a testimony that the things we are teaching her are true......with all that being said she has never made it to church which means she can't progress.  So this week when we were planning out our lesson we talked about how we were going to address the matter.  As we were going over the part of the plan of salvation that we had discussed in the last visit and talking about our life here on earth she got super quiet.  We asked her if there was something shed like to share. "Well I just feel terrible that I always say that I'm going to go to church and then I never do.  I know that it's where I should be, and where I want to be but something always gets in my way.  Our time on earth is super precious and I can't just say that I'm going to do something, I need to do it!" Yeah, so we didn't end up talking about how church was important cause she covered it for us :) Later on in the lesson, because that moment wasn't mind blowing enough I guess, she asked," Do you guys think I'm ready to be baptized? Its something I REALLY want to do and I've been thinking about my date a lot this week. Do you think I know enough to be baptized? What do I need to do more to be ready?" Well safe to say that my comp and I were at a loss for words.  She looked at me to say something and I tried my hardest to make sense of Spanish because my brain was whirling in dizzy circles! All the next day we were thrilled about it and so sure she would be at church this Sunday, but all Saturday I kept thinking and worrying about her until my comp finally asked what was wrong.  I suggested that we pass by for her Sunday morning just to make sure that she knew where the church was.

Sunday morning we left the house at 7 to walk to her house (because we don't have a lot of money) and found her in the street with her three kids walking to a neighbor's house.  They were crazy surprised to see us and her face was just shocked when we asked about church.  "of course I'll be there.  It starts at 12 right?" UMMM it starts at 9, like in 30 minutes.  Ana was horrified to say the least!! She grabbed her baby, threw him over her shoulder and told the other children to start running.  We made it back to her house in record timing and I'm pretty sure she was ready in a time that was fast even in Neuberger standards.  We made it to church with 5 minutes to spare and huge smiles on everyone's faces.  Her children were AMAZING for all of Sacrament meeting (they're all under the age of 4) and then were thrilled out of their minds when the primary teacher came over to ask if she could show them to their classes.  Ana wasn't going to stay for the whole three hours (because they hadn't even eaten breakfast in the morning because they were in such a rush), but her kids refused to leave so they stayed longer then most of the members.  It was just awesome! Not to mention that the Family Morningstar was back at church this week and back in the progressing mindset, Sergio was faithful and fabulous along with Hilda who just has the strongest of testimonies and it was just the greatest Sunday of all Sundays!!!! For the second Sunday in a row the chapel was so full that we had every child sitting on a lap and still had to have people sit outside cause there wasn't anymore room to sit.  The best part is there are still so many more to get to church and then I can't even imagine what will do! I just love this place soooo much!!!

The Lord will NEVER let you down,
What we face in this life is nothing compared to what He faced and because He faced it He knows EXACTLY how to help us,
Have faith in Him in EVERY moment, of EVERY day, 
He truly lives,
Hermana Neuberger

Monday, December 1, 2014

Accepted of the Lord

So I have like 20 minutes to write cause I'm covered in dirt and sweat and need to shower before 6.  BUT we went on the craziest hike today and I cant wait to take all of you on it.  The fact that we made it to the top is nothing short of a miracle!!!!! Safe to say it is a kind of Mexican "Angel's Landing" and the trail is really tough....if you can find the trail that is!!!! Safe to say,sorry mom, you and your fear of heights are not invited!!!!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!!!! (safe to say I kind of forgot it was a holiday) After 50 pics of New York City from my mom I'm feeling slightly trunky and super psyched for my next Thanksgiving in NYC the only place to be for turkey day....that being said I can't really complain about where I am, the greatest place on earth!!!

This week was really, really, really, really hard.  The kind of hard that leaves you racking your brain for a Plan M because every other idea has fallen through; crazy jealous as you pass yet another eight references to the other Sisters of T for an address that used to be part of our area; and on your knees more then ever pleading for answers from the Lord.  I mean we are here to share the gospel with others.  Why on earth aren't missions easy!? BUT with all the thinking this week I made quite a few realizations.  Where is the success in a unfought battle? Without opposition mission life would just be 2 years without growth and that's exactly the opposite of what I want for my mission.

So with all that said let me tell you how much good comes form the bad.  No, it's true, we're still struggling more then ever, but we know there are people waiting and we need to find them and that vision gets us through just about everyday....that and putting our arms around each other as a silent sign that were in this together. I truly believe one of the greatest promises we have of the Lord is that He will always send answers or guides.  If we truly analyse every moment of our lives will soon quickly come to realize that there are no bad days, maybe hard moments, but never a bad day.  No matter what happens during the day, how many appointments fall, how many people flat out reject us, we still have the opportunity to have an effect on these peoples lives and that's all that really matters in the long run.  Hopefully were planting seeds and making a difference for the future.  If we accomplish that I can wake up every morning with a huge smile on my face ready for anything!

I found answers with answers this week in a talk called Accepted of the Lord.  Its times like this on the mission where you literally analyze every little thing and wonder what on earth it is that I'm doing wrong.  But naturally were all going to have low points and it might not mean anything at all.  People will ALWAYS have their agency to choose I'm just here to give them another option.  The talk outlines three important things to do in times like this that I've seriously been reflecting this week: self reflection to see if you truly have an honest and broken heart, contrite spirit to receive direction and understanding from the spirit, and to observe our covenants no matter the sacrifice (DC 97:8).  Having the spirit is the number one way to know you are accepted of the Lord, and without the spirit this work is truly nothing.  So I'll do my work for all I'm worth and continue to improve because I'm crazy human and there's always room to change and be better.  I truly treasure the spirit that I can feel in the lessons I teach, though they might be few.  I feel blessed everyday just for the opportunity to be a missionary cause there is no greater cause in the entire earth.

I also feel super accepted of the Lord this week in my own silly ways.  I hope I've explained chump change before (the money I find on the street after we did what the Lord wanted us to do. I consider it a pat on the back from heaven) because this week I found over 70 pesos worth of chump change.  I guess more then ever the Lord was looking out for me and just letting me know that He still has an infinite love for me and wants me to feel it!  

This Sunday was the Primary Program in church which resulted in attendance of 86 people....there wasn't even room for all of us.  Safe to say it was just mind blowing.  Our next plan is to figure out how to get those numbers every week.  Looks like the Primary might have to start making it a monthly event ;)

Life can never get better then serving others,
Love everyone around you,
Share the real meaning of Christmas (He is The Gift)
So much love,
Hermana Neuberger