Tuesday, October 25, 2011

3rd Transfer - Same Area... Love it!

Dear family,
    It is so good to hear from all of you and to know that you are thinking about me and supporting me so much in this work.  Things are really good here in Fresno.  It is still my first area for the 3rd transfer and I love it here.  We just baptized Irma this past Saturday and confirmed her Sunday.  She chose me to baptize her and my companion to confirm her.  It was very special and I have never seen her show much emotion the whole time we have taught her and after her baptism she was so happy.  I couldn't believe it.  I will send pictures soon to Sarah and also some hard copies home but it was awesome and was very spiritual.  This coming week we are going to have the baptism for Sixto on Sunday and he has his interview tonight.  He is a miracle and has changed so much from the first day we saw him.  He hasn't drank in 3 weeks and you can see such a significant difference in him from when we first met him.  He has learned so much and we just set a baptismal date with his friend who lives with him.  His name is Jorge and he will be baptized on November 27th.  The work is going awesome and it is all truly through the Spirit that is with us.  I know that the Lord is putting these people in our way and then preparing us through the Spirit to know what to say and invite them to.  Thank you so much all of you who prayed for these of our brothers and sisters and I know that they helped them to enter into the water of baptism.

      The language is still coming a long great and I feel like it is improving a lot.  Obviously not as much since my native companion Elder Moreno has since gone back to Mexico but it is getting better all the time.  Elder Wright and I get along super well and work very hard.  We see the hand of the Lord in our personal lives daily and in this area.  We have a general authourity coming tomorrow named Elder Koelliker of the 70.  I am so excited to meet him and I will tell you all about it next week.

       There is not too much else going on here but just teaching a lot of different people and just working hard to build their faith and testify of the truth that we know and find so much joy in.  I love the gospel in such a way that is amazes me.  I truly love it and am so happy we are all a part of it together as a family.  It is such a blessing and I know that it is true and that we will live together forever after this life.  Read the scriptures daily, personally and as a family, and pray personally and as a family.  Have famliy home evenings and attend the temple.  These things I see first hand make a huge difference.  You can just walk into a home and know if that family really does those things because the Spirit is there.  Never forget the GREAT importance of the things that are little or maybe just seem little.  The scriptures say that it is through small and simple things (family scripture study) that great things are brought to pass (real friendships at home and contention stopping).  These are promises of our Heavenly Father, the Almighty.  We must listen.  These things I only say because I have seen such a difference in families who do and don't and especially for all of our family that has such young families.  It is much easier to make a habit of something when you first start rather that trying to defeat a bad habit and start a good one at the same time.

      Also just a side note.  Make sure the missionaries at home are good ones.  Whip them into shape and don't just let them slide by because they have a name tag on.  They are set apart as representatives but that doesn't mean the power is given, it is just possible at that point.  They need to earn.  Don't let them play wii with the kids or watch TV or stay for more than 45 minutes.  Get them out the door because they are there to share a message and find the other sons and daughters of God who are ready.  Don't let them eat for and hour and then chit chat for another.  They should be in and out with a good message for the family.  I have just seen some missionaries who don't do this and it is important to show love and care to the families you visit but to be on your way to share the Gospel with everyone else too. Then when you got those special missionaries who really know what they are doing and do it in the Lord's way, help them out.  Give them referrals and rides and food, because they are going to baptize your friends and families cause they have the Spirit.

      I love you all so much and will always keep you each in my prayers.  May God always bless you with what you need and what you work for.  I love you all a ton and am so greatful for all the prayers, letters and emails, support, and love that you give me.  I LOVE YOU!!!
-Love you son/brother/grandson/nephew/cousin/uncle/friend Elder Neeley

Saturday, October 15, 2011

It's Hot in Fresno

Dear Family,

     This week due to schedule changes with transfers our preparation day is today which is saturday.  So I know this took you all off gaurd and you haven't been able to send emails yet but it is ok, I will just get them next week.  I am here in my first area still in Fresno for another transfer with Elder Wright and I am super excited for it.  We are both firmly dedicated to working as hard as possible at all times and we are both dedicated to being 100% obedient 100% of the time.  Obviously we are not perfect but I know we will be able to see some great miracles this up coming transfer with our companionship.  Elder Wright is an awesome missionary and we get along great.  He just got made district leader this transfer too so I am sure he will enjoy that.  We have two baptismal candidates who should be baptized this upcoming week when all goes well.  Please keep them in your prayers if you don't mind, their names are Irma and Sixto.  They are both awesome people who are preparing for baptism and they were both super solid and excited and ready to get baptized when some last second problems came up and we need to help them really feel the Spirit and recognize the importance and the blessings and the happiness that will come through their baptism.  I know the Lord will bless us and them as we are faithful.

      In other news it is not burning hot here in Fresno but just really hot.  Rather than 100+ degrees everyday it is just the high 80's every day so that is nice I guess.  I really love this work and don't think I can say that enough times.  I don't know what it is because this is really really really hard work but the Spirit that you feel and the happiness that other people recieve is a billion times worth the pain and the hard parts.  Serve when ever and where ever you can because it is some the most real joy one can experience and is when you really can get close to the Savior and the veil becomes ever thinner.  Dad tell me how the Bobcats did last night please and I love you a ton and miss you all and love you all.  Sarah I got the card and the SD card and all is going well.  I love you all so much and miss you a ton and keep you in my prayers always.  I love you!!!!
-Love your son/brother/grandson/nephew/cousin/uncle/friend Elder Neeley

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Dear family,
          Things are well in Fresno and starting to cool off (but still in the 80's haha).  I am emailing today on this Tuesday because the library was closed yesterday so all the mission is emailing today.  Thank you so much for the picture of us at the temple.  I pulled it out last night while teaching an investigator and said " this is my family and I, and I know that we will be together forever through the blessings of this gospel.  If that is what you want you need to pray to know if it is true."  It is powerful to see and it always brings me joy to see us outside of the temple after being sealed and making those covenants with Heavenly Father.  This is the only true church of Jesus Christ on the face of the Earth and was restored in its fullness through Joseph Smith.  I really do know that and just try my hardest to share it with others.

      It is frustrating a lot of times to think why aren't these people praying or coming to church or being baptized and sometimes weighs heavily on how successful I think I am as a missionary.  But I do always know that it is true and through being obedient and listening to the Spirit we will find those sons and daugters of God who are ready.  You all can find them at home too.  Pray to know who they are because I know that they are there waiting for you to find them and reach out to them.  Ask the Lord who they are.  I promise He will tell you.

       We have transfer calls this thursday and so I will be starting up my 3rd transfer very shortly.  I am still in my first area and I love it but I still haven't baptized anyone.  It is tough work.  The spanish is going well and the food tastes great as always and there is a lot of it as always.  I know I am here for a reason and pray I can find out why exactly that is.  I pray for you all always and hope all is going well.  I didn't have time yesterday to respond to the letters from Eleanor and Alex and Olivia but I did get them along with the package, which was SOOOOOO delicious, especially the pumpkin bread.  Did you make that Mom?  But anyway I will be responding soon I promise.  I love you all so much and am greatful for all you support and love and prayers.  I will keep you posted and let you know how I am doing.  I love you all so much and think of you daily.
  -Love your son/brother/grandson/nephew/cousin/uncle/friend Elder Neeley

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

2nd Wave of Pictures from Stevie

At some point maybe Steven can give us his own captions to his mission pictures, but for now we can just enjoy what we have... which includes my own commentary. :)

A lot of these pictures are from when Steven was still at the MTC (Missionary Training Center).

These are the "dorms" at the MTC

Strong as ever, Stevie literally carries his mission friends when they are weak!

You may wonder why some missionaries in the pictures are in PJ's and some are in suits... well, either it was almost bedtime or Stevie was having his "P-day" or preparation day. It's one day set aside out of the week to do practical things besides missionary proselytizing: like write home, do laundry, get a hair cut (you can see there aren't any mullets among these missionaries) or whatever else you need to do.

If being a missionary doesn't work out, Steven is planning on applying for a sharp-shooting position with the BYU Police. 

Aw, yes, the Missionary Snuggie. Nice, Stevie. 

These are probably all elders' in Steven's district at the MTC
(The missionaries are organized into different groups, called districts, depending on what language they are learning)

At the MTC Stevie went to classes almost all day on scripture study, preparing and practicing sharing the gospel with others, and learning Spanish. 


Hang Loose (?)

"He ain't heavy.... he my brother"

Outside the MTC

(That middle guy looks like Draco Malfoy... for real)

Practicing "Street Fighter" moves... just in case

Handsome as ever...

Packing up and leaving the MTC - now off to magical Fresno, CA!! Whew-hoo!

Usually elders are in a companionship of two, but Stevie had a group of three for awhile, so this must be The Three Musketeers in action. 

A meeting or training for Stevie's district

Doing service in the good old sunshine!

Out to dinner at a famous hunting lodge in Fresno
(I made that up, but they are out to dinner somewhere... and it looks like a burly, manly hunting lodge to me...)

Outside the Fresno Temple

Ready to take on anything, Steven's lookin' sharp in his tan suit

Gotta love that Steven...

Monday, October 3, 2011

Learning Patience

Dear Family,
Things are really well here in Fresno.  Some days are really hard but honestly those are the ones that build my testimony of prayer, faith and patience.  I really enjoyed all of the General Conference and thought it was awesome!  I especially enjoyed the talk from Elder Hales that said we must wait on the Lord and remember to have faith and patience in Him and know that He will lead us out of the storms and darkness of our trials.  It is especially through prayer.  I know that God is our Father and loves each of us and wants to help us in our hard times if we will diligently go to Him and continually ask Him for comfort and guidance in our lives.   We have two baptisms this month and I am super excited for them.  One is the mom of a family that are members.  She is super solid and ready to go.  The other has a problem with drinking but really he is a miracle.  We got done tracting through an apartment after our apointment canceled on us and as we waited for Elder Wright and Elder Moreno to come pick us up, a man was walking back to his apartment and it is the same one who will be baptized on the 16th of October.  He immediately had a desire to be a member and go to church and he hasn't missed one sunday since we found hime almost 3 weeks ago.  He is not super smart but he is so willing to listen and to learn.  The Lord prepared this man and we were worthy enough to be guided by the Spirit to find him.  There are people waiting for each of you specifically in your lives that only you can touch.  Pray to God and ask Him who it is and I promise as a representative of Christ that you will recieve a face or name and then with that name go back to God and ask Him what you should invite them to.  He will answer.  I love you all so much and miss you a ton and pray for you always.  

I did recieve mom's mail but not the pictures yet.  I have a letter for mom and Sarah that have been sent a few days ago and have one for Victoria that will be sent with in the week.  I am so greatful for all your support and love and prayers.  It really does help and I know that this work is true.  The Spirit speaks to all, every one of us, in the things we can do to serve and share in our own lives and we just need to pray to recieve the promptings and we must act on them.  It is just like President Monson's story about the Temple in Germany but remember we don't have to be a general authority, or a bishop or a missionary.  We just need to be a worthy member of Christ's Church and because we have the gift of the Holy Ghost, it must and will speak to us as we live righteously.  The angels and blessings of heaven CANNOT be with held or restrained in any manner or degree from the worthy Latter Day Saint who diligently seeks to have that heavenly guidance and help.  I love you all so much and am thankful for everything you do.  I think of you often and know that you are doing so much good in your homes even when you don't realize it.  Thank you for your examples,  share your testimonies.  I love you all so much!
-Love your son/brother/grandson/nephew/cousin/uncle/friend Elder Neeley

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Gift to Speak Spanish

Dear family,

       Things here in Fresno are going well!  We have 2 really solid baptismal canidates for October 23rd and I am very excited for them.  One of them is named Sixto and he is truly a miracle in how prepared he was by the Lord.  The Lord knows who is sheep are and will bring them home; we need to just be worthy enough to be the means that He brings them back to His fold.  We had known this man for 2 days and it was our second lesson and he was just like "I need to be a member of you church" and he came to church and wants to give money and all this stuff to the churhc and we have been explaining that it is not quite like that but it has been almost kind of funny how much he wants to do all at once so we are just trying to prepare him as fast as we can for his baptism.  I love this work!!  I do miss you all a ton and love your support and letters and prayers.  I am also glad to hear that the pictures are on the way because I know it will be a huge help to this work as I keep using my testimony about our family and the blessings of the temple.  I am also happy to hear that all the family is getting a chance to get together and see each other and do stuff together like that marathon.  Also the vacation plans sound great to me haha but I probably won't think on them too much since I still have almost 2 years to go haha!

       The language is coming along really good because of the help of the Lord and becasue of my native companion Elder Moreno, who leaves this friday for Mexico City.  I still have my other companion Elder Wright so we will just be moving along after that.  But I feel like I can just about understand everything that native speakers are saying and it is really cool to see and to understand and realize that the Lord has given me this gift to speak spanish.

       I am glad to hear that the football team is doing so well and I hope that they keep it up and I hope they know I am rooting for them.  Also tell Eleanor that I said congratulations on making the front page but that she shouldn't get too big of a head haha.  Tell everyone else too that I say hi and that the work is good and the way the time is going I feel like I will be home before I know it.

       I am so greatful for you examples to me in this gospel and know that you are making a difference in the missionary work around you and certainly have make a difference in my work out here in Fresno.  I love you all so much and love all the emails and the updates.  Congratulations to Marie for her 2nd baby and to Brad for getting his job!  I love to hear that our family are visiting each other a lot and active and doing fun stuff.  I hope all is well and pray for you daily and appreciate all that you do for me.  Love you!!!!   and PS thank you Sarah for the address, I will be sending Andrea and Rex's letter today or tomorrow.
    -Love your son/brother/grandson/nephew/cousin/uncle/friend Elder Neeley