Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Is This Really Goodbye?

don't think I have words that truly describe the emotion of the end or what I feel when everyone reminds me that I'm now down to days! When I think of endings a quote always comes to mind from 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? There seems to be something inside of us that resists endings.” To that I can truly say “Amen”, because every part of me right now is trying to resist the idea of my mission coming to an end.  The thought of not waking up every morning at 6:30 am, putting on a name tag, and walking out the door to face whatever the world has to throw at us that day, is really hard for me to comprehend.  I guess a part of me had grown to believe that this day would NEVER come and another part of me was praying it was somehow true.  Being a missionary though is something that I know will never end. The only ending I'm really facing is the fact that I'm leaving Mexico, which I now believe to be the greatest country in the world! But the end does not mean I'll forget.  It does not mean that I won't say a thousand times, “One time on my mission….” It will just mean a change up!
Oh and what a change up it will be.  I think its going to take a couple of weeks for my mind to wrap around the idea of washing machines, technology, hot water coming directly from the pipe, not having an aisle dedicated to oil in the super market (and then another aisle dedicated to mayo, another to beans, and another to rice), not having to shower out of a bucket, flush toilets, everyone having their own cars, asking for water and not getting flavor options, and about a million other things that I just crazy love about Mexico.  I can honestly say that the mission grants us a chance to feel a love so full and so pure that it can only be called charity.  Never in my life have I ever been so concerned about the older women trying to carry her groceries or the young man sitting alone on the street corner.  Never have I gazed at a family and instantly thought how much happier they would be if they had the gospel in their lives and then walked right over and shared it with them.  The mission doesn’t just make us believers, it makes us doers! Doers of good continuously, in every situation, in every thought.  We make the good out of everything and even if all of our last plans fall through, we just keep smiling and think of a thousand more people we could help with the magical extra time the Lord has given us.
Too cute!
But as Uchtdorf so greatly puts it, “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.” And truly there is no ending at all.  I am merely graduating from an 18 month missionary to a Forever Disciple and I believe that to be a truly golden prize! Nothing will ever erase the work I have done here.  More importantly, nothing will ever erase the mighty change of heart the mission has blessed me with.  I will never falter, I will never yield.  I truly know with all my heart that my Heavenly Father's love is real.  He lives.  He hears and answers every prayer and is so willing and ready to bless us.  I know that Jesus Christ truly is my Redeemer, He is my Exemplar, He is my Best Friend.  He is the only one who can carry me on and has done so more times then I can count.  I know that due to their never ending love for us, God and Jesus Christ, have restored all the same truths that Jesus Christ taught when He was on the earth in our day.  I know that those restored truths exist here, in the one and only true church on the face of the earth, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I know that Their only desire is for us to return to their presence again one day.  I know that the joy we feel on that day will be truly perfect as we enter into the embrace of that loving family who has waited so long to see us! His plan is perfect and I will be forever grateful for the chance he has given me, a weak, imperfect servant, to take part in the greater plan that He has for the people of Mexico.  I will choose to forever be the servant He has molded me to be!
 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. (2 Tim. 4:7-8)
See ya Monday,
Hermana Neuberger

My family will understand this one:)

Monday, July 20, 2015

Starting on a Journey

Me, Lucio, and my companion
The Lord certainly has a way of making everything work out perfectly! This week everyone in the ward was so excited for the baptism of Lucio, as were we! He was super nervous for his baptismal interview and because he was nervous so were we, because he probably would have just started talking instead of answering right.  His baptismal interview ended up being almost 2 hours long, 2 HOURS, so we were panicked as we waited outside wondering what on earth could possibly be going on.  Saturday we passed by quickly just to make sure that he was ready and to answer any questions.  We were all laughing and joking on his couch when his phone unexpectedly rang.....and it wasn't good news.  Last week a good friend of Lucio had taken a turn for the worse so he had left church early.  This call was to tell him that his friend had died and they were requesting his presence in the hospital because the guy has no living family....4 hours before the baptism and the guy is more then an hour and a half away...So all sorts of crazy drama broke loose.  Lucio burst into tears, "Hermanas, the only thing that I prayed for last night, over and over again, is that Dios (God) would just let me get baptized today.  I just wanted to get baptized. Can we wait till next week or something?" My only thought was NO!, we are not going to postpone this.  So we just delayed it with the start time being "whenever Lucio gets here." I was so wiped out from stress that I almost keeled over right there! How could this possibly be happening?! This is the man with whom we fought off iliteracy, jail time, and life threatening illness! What more could he possibly go through?!?!

But I guess the moral of the story is that he got there! And he was happier then ever, and everything worked out so we all went to bed Saturday extremely happy! That's the greatest part about the gospel. If the Lord wants it to happen it will all work out.  I have an unshakable testimony of how powerful this message I carry is! It changes lives FOREVER and will have eternal consequences.  The light it brings into the lives of others can't be denied.  When people are truly converted the passion burns within them and brings about changes that would NEVER be possible without the hand of the Lord.  I know this gospel is true and that is why I will share it with each and everyone of you. When we have something so precious and dear to our hearts why wouldn't we share it with everyone?? 

All My Love,

Hermana Neuberger

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Trust In The Lord

17 Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.

Sun light shining in a cave below the pyramids
Well I know it was quite a roller coaster week last week but this week was a lot of waiting and holding on tight to see if the roller coaster would end and Id be able to walk off unharmed.  Luckily that's what Heavenly Father had for me in mind as well.  Jose is still in the hospital, after a week, but is only still beating due to machines and has been that way for about 5 days.  His family wants to disconnect him so they can just end the suffering, but the government can't do that due to the free healthcare and other laws.  Its really sad, but we had the chance to say goodbye to him before he went into coma and Chynoweth even made it to his bedside which was the greatest thing ever for me because that's her convert.  So for me everything in the end was all right and we know that José's already going to work as a missionary, looking for his dear mother.  We saw Lucio on Monday and he told us that the final decision wouldn't be made till Wednesday (waited till Wednesday with way way way too much stress!!!!) and then the decision didn't come till Thursday! But if I had known the decision was going to turn out that perfectly I could have waited a life time to hear it! He came up to us in the street Thursday and told us, "Hermanas, IT'S A MIRACLE!" He then informed us that at the trial the lady who was accusing him had settled for 5 thousand pesos and nothing else.  That's 40 thousand pesos less then what she had been arguing for the last three weeks! And with that settled the case is closed closed closed, in the form that in can never ever ever nunca jamas be revisited....and I cried tears of joy! So baptism ready, font soon to be filled, and another son of God ready to enter into the fold!

Making friends with the cicadas
On Saturday we went to go teach Lucio about baptism a little more and why we get baptized.  We started explaining it, he cut us off, finished explaining it way better then I could have, and then said "yeah I know that, it's all here in the book. What's tithing? And how can I start paying it? The Lord has truly blessed me more then I can imagine lately and I need to show him that I understand its all thanks to him!" .......can you be any more of a miracle Lucio?!?!? I don't think I've ever met anyone before who is so excited to pay tithing.

We also started teaching Margarit this week and found that her family situation is way more complicated then we thought.  Her children literally hate her and don't talk to her...despite the fact that they're all above the age of 20, still living at her house with their families, and she is basically sustaining all 5 of them with her next to nothing income.  It's really sad, but we started trying to be friends with all of her children this week, and it worked! Because Sunday they ALL came to church and loved it! I just love how much the gospel can truly strengthen and bless families in more ways then we can imagine if we first just open our hearts!

A little fun in a children's park
More then anything my heart is full and my humility is that much greater! I know with all the surety of my heart that there is no greater or more perfect plan then that of our Heavenly Father.  If we do our part, He will work out the rest.  Our joy is greater when the trials take our faith, but we are given more faith to overcome, more faith to endure only if we put our full confidence in Him.  I know that everything that we have passed through has not only strengthened my faith but has also blessed the lives of Lucio and has allowed His faith in God to grow 100 fold.  Heavenly Father knows us. He loves us. He truly created the universe, the solar system, every life form here on this earth. But more then anything He is our Father and His arms will always be there to encircle us, no matter the circumstance, because to Him we are everything!

Love to Everyone,

Hermana Neuberger

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Greatest Man

Well my mind currently can’t wrap around all the things that have passed in the last week! It’s safe to say it’s been an interesting one, from district leaders’ flip out because we found 10 new investigators all in one our district leader, for the first time ever, being completely speechless, "simply stating, wow you can’t catch a break!" So where do I begin with a week like that?!?! Well with my testimony, I know that everything that we go through is this light truly makes us better people, BUT only if we choose to let it do so! I know that the plan of the Lord is perfect for ALL his children, ALL OF THEM, and He will never simply leave us to suffer.  If we turn to Him, He will truly send angels to protect us and to keep us standing when our knees become to week to stand! I truly believe in the ministry of angels both seen and unseen!

This week our new mission president arrived and it has been one of the funniest experiences of my life! He couldn’t be any more lost if he tried but he is so willing and wanting to get to know everyone and just be a part of everything so I know he will do great things! We had a multi-zone conference on Friday and everyone was ecstatic because there were so many friends there. He started off the conference asking if anyone had any questions, so we started in....and then when no one had any more questions that was the end of the conference.....interesting! But they are sooooo very different from the Kuschs that there will never be comparing that’s for sure.  We feel just a little sick and Hna Avila (the President’s wife) is ready to turn the mission home into our personal hospital. We leave our area and they want a direct phone call when we leave and when we get home safely. They just want to talk to all of us and they could care less about the line of authority (district leaders call zone leaders, zl call APs, APs call president).  Hna Avila was super worried Sunday because no one had signed up to feed us, "Is that normally a problem hermanas?! I can totally feed you whenever you need me to, I hope you guys know that, just call me!" And I was like, aren’t you always gonna be gone like the Kuschs?? THIS IS GONNA BE AWESOME!!!!! I think the greatest part about the Avilas, if that wasn’t already enough, is that they brought with them one of their sons who has Downs syndrome.  His name is Sammy and he reminds me so much of Sara Bailey that I just want to squeeze him!!!!! He soooo sweet and just awesome! During church on Sunday he sat across from me and every time he looked up I just smiled at him, he blushed, looked down, and then would peak back at me, so I naturally just kept smiling during the whole class!!!! I’m so excited to have them here with us!!! Truly they are a great light during a rather roller coaster kind of week....

So for the roller coaster....On Friday night we stopped by to see Lucio, the greatest miracle of my mission, and he was crying.  What on earth is going on, was all I could think?! He then filled us in on the fact that the court case that we all thought had been settled a month ago when they dropped the charges had come back up. Because he still didn’t have the 31,000 pesos he was officially going to jail Monday morning for 8 years on false charges, despite all the naturally his tears were not the only ones shed.  I couldn’t believe my ears, but what followed was the most powerful testimony meeting of my life.  This dear old man who I just happened to sit next to one day on the bus for 2 minutes has stolen my heart and showed me that our Heavenly Father knows us much more personally then we can ever imagine! I have had the marvillosa pleasure of watching Lucio transform in the course of a month from a man who knew nothing of God or how to read, to someone who now can read AND UNDERSTAND, but more importantly has a faith in God that cannot be shaken! We started talking about faith and he shared his testimony that he knows that His father in Heaven is looking out for him.  He told us that he knows it for sure because that same God sent his "angels" (us) to him.  In that moment I was so thankful for the family Palmas (my district: the office secretaries and the assistants) and their ability to react fast.  I called Elder Jenson instantly to come give Lucio a blessing and they dropped everything and came running just by listening to my voice.  It was a powerful blessing and the spirit was just burning as we left his house. So that imposing doom is still hanging over our heads 13 days before his baptism.....

It was a rough day/night, but we woke up Saturday morning with our dreams big cause we had so much to do and we were crazy excited about how good our day was going to be! But naturally you shouldn’t count your eggs before they hatch, the day quickly became something that none of us were expecting! Everything fell through so we decided to go visit Jose (a 72 year old recent convert of Hna Chynoweth who we visit about every day because he’s amazing) early.  We sent him a message to tell him we were on our way but when we arrived he wasn’t waiting for us outside....that’s a first! The door was open and there was Jose, hunched over in a chair unable to breath.  Luckily, missionaries are trained to react super well in crazy situations so we kept our calm really well.  Jose was able to get air and started showing us how swelled up his legs were and telling us about his other horrible symptoms.  For a man that has been smoking around 20 cigarettes every day of his life for the last 60 years, he’s basically a living miracle.  He didn’t want us to tell anyone, just to sing him a few hymns.  We naturally did not follow the first request, the second one we followed through with.  The other week I made him a disk of the music and lyrics of every hymn, which he has now listened to 50 times through.  He loves the “Spirit of God” so we sang him that one as we waited for the APs to arrive to our aid (we decided to give Elder Jenson and Elder Morales a break because they had saved us last night).  The APs dropped everything and were there in minutes, love them! Jose was shocked to see them but happily received the blessing.  Afterwards he said, "I already feel better. Do we want to have the lesson here on the patio or in my house?" YEAH RIGHT, there was no doubt in my mind that he needed to get to the hospital.  We all went to work trying to find a member to pass by to help us get him there but nobody answered so we just went to work.  The elders carried Jose down the mountain where he lives and I ran way out in front to find a taxi.  A taxi was the first thing that passed by, can someone say miracle?!?!?, but the guy apologized saying he didn’t have time and needed to repair something in his car first.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! Was all I could think to say as he drove away.  I said a quick prayer and out of nowhere there was the same taxi driver backing his car down the same road he had just driven away on.  "Okay.....I’ll do it!" We later came to find that as he drove away a huge feeling to go back came over him that he said he just couldn’t ignore, THANK YOU HEAVENLY FATHER!

The hospitals here are sponsored by the government so the care is all free.....which means the lines are hours long....and the care isn’t the best....but it’s free.  For yet another miracle, the mile long line parted ways as the elders carried Jose in and he was immediately attended to.  Elder Estrada went in with him while we sat outside with Elder Corven.  It was probably the worst three hours of my life! We had no idea what was going on inside.  All we could do was sit there and watch all the sick and horribly battered bleeding people standing patiently in line trying to get care.  At one point an old man who was waiting in a chair had a heart attack...he was dead before the doctors even got to him.  When he arrived he hadn’t been bad enough for the doctors to have to rush him in so they had told him he had to wait an hour.  And that’s how I passed my Independence Day and I have to say that I am proud to be an American! I have never felt so thankful for my country then I did in that moment.  A good part was that I stick out as an American so a ton of people stopped to ask me what I was doing there and I had a ton of opportunities to share the gospel with hopeless people who just needed hugs. With a few calls the elder quorum was on top of things.  From that moment till today, there was a member of the elders quorum at Jose’s bedside 24/7 all of the brethren taking shifts :) it was a tender mercy and one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.

The night finished with little news of Jose and even less of Lucio.  Elder Jensen tried to share words of comfort but just felt hopeless.  Safe to say Sunday was a welcomed blessing.  Everyone canceled about coming to church an hour before everything started and we couldn’t find Lucio anywhere...stress.  We walked into the chapel with our heads down, and found Lucio sitting there waiting for us with a huge smile on his face! It was a needed tender mercy. We sang the Spirit of God....and I was in tears thinking of Jose.  And from that moment on it became one of the greatest sacrament meetings of my life! I don’t think I have ever heard more powerful testimonies.  There was a unity in the ward, there was a powerful spirit in the air, and there was simply love flowing from every individual! I left truly happier as if I had shed a burden.  As we were sitting in pricipios del evangelio when Hermano Javier called us out.  My comp and I were a little surprised but we followed him out of the room to a lady who was waiting in the lobby for us.  He simply said, "she’d like to hear about the church so I thought you guys could help." I almost started crying on the spot, but a giant smile won! In my entire mission I have never had the experience of someone just showing up to church and I couldn’t stop thanking the Lord.  It was needed.  It was as if the Lord was telling us, "Everything’s going to be okay. Here’s a family of 8 of my precious children who need your spirit and help.  Go strengthen them and I’ll take care of the rest!"

Sunday night ended on a horrible note.  We arrived home and instantly called Elder Estrada to see what he knew about Jose.  He told us he would call us in a few minutes...but after an hour we tried calling him again...still didn’t answer.  The meeting that our district was in with president lasted till 10 Elder Jenson called at about 10:20 for our data and to see how we were doing.  In the middle of the phone call the assistants called so we hung up really fast from him.  To hear Elder Estrada crying on the other side of the line was all I needed to know....Jose had been put into induced sleep because his heart was overworking, and then his lungs had failed, he had fallen into a coma a few hours before.  I broke down like I haven’t in a while and instantly called was a hard conversation.  After that Jenson called to see how we were all to say it was a really late night for the Family Palmas......

All I know is that despite everything! I have unfailing confidence in the plan of the Lord! Jose, Lucio, Margarita, every one of them was a blessing from the Lord and I know that I wouldn’t be the person I am today without their help and support! I’m so glad for the knowledge I have of the gospel.  I know with all certainty that there is no other way to happiness then accepting and following the gospel of Jesus Christ.  He is my rock and my Salvador.  One day I’ll have the chance to thank Him for all He has suffered for me and for all the tender mercies I have received at His hand.  This work will never end, because it’s the work of an Almighty God and it will truly change the world, as it has truly changed my life! In the words of Elder Holland, "we cannot quit, we cannot go back!" So forward we go! With the shield of faith ready to destroy all the doubts and traps strewn in our path by the adversary!