Monday, November 14, 2011

Tiny Tacos in Fresno

Dear family,
             Things in Fresno are fantastic!  The Romero family is going to be baptized on this coming Sunday and we are so excited for them.  Our zone in Fresno has been an under-performing zone this whole year I guess but this month we are on track for meeting our goals and possibley exceeding them.  We are super excited not because of the numbers but because we know that these are the Lord's goals and His expectations for the zone and therefore by meeting them we meeting the Lord's expectations of our work, commitment, and obedience.  The work is really moving forward and I feel and see my own testimony growing every day and my knowledge of the Gospel increase with every lesson, and opportunity to study.  The Spirit really does transform people into the sons and daughters of God that He sees them as.

             I have started reading Jesus the Christ and it is AWESOME!! I love it and in the Book of Mormon I am just starting Alma.  I have to finish the Book of Mormon by Christmas because the whole mission is finishing it by then and doing a "Moroni 10:4-5" on our selves and renewing our testimonies in the Book of Mormon.  It is so odd to me sometimes thinking about how I love to just read scriptures and Gospel literature as apposed to before in my life.  I never even liked reading and now with the Standard Works of the Church, I can't get enough.  It is really a testimony to me that it is the word of God and truly the Spirit is what has changed my heart and made me come to love and desire to read the scriptures.  It is so important that you are all doing family scripture study because that is where that desire will start in the lives of the younger kids.  It is definitely not an easy process or a over night process but it really works little by little and will change everyone's hearts to love and desire the scriptures.

              I do keep a daily journal and work very hard to atleast write about something every day.  I do miss sometimes when we have a lot of other business going on but I work very hard to write in it daily and I just about always do.  It is really helpful to remember the things and miracles I see every day but sometimes when I have a hard day it really makes me feel better some how.  It is great and I hope that the younger kids start that habit it now because there are miracles everyday in everyone's lives and I wish I would have started a journal when I was younger.

              My favorite mexican food is probably just these tiny tacos that are just tiny pieces of fried up steak, not ground beef but like steak in small pieces.  And you put salsa and celantro and onions and squeeze a lime over it and.....YUM.  I could eat and usually do eat atleast 10 when the members have them for us.  You can put other stuff too like guacamole but they are so good.  Honestly though I love all of it and there are so many good things.  There is this lady named Sister Cabada and she cooks mexican food SO good.  We always eat at her house atleast twice a month haha.  Don't worry though cause I am still not fat.  I work out still every morning minus Sundays and I play sports every Preparation day (usually basketball).

                  I am glad to hear all is well at home and that sports are going good and everyone is having success in them.  Ruthe must be super excited to work out with Coach Mckenna haha and I hope she works really hard.  It is awesome to hear that Eleanor will be starting.  I am sure that Alex and Amber and Olivia are all doing really well in their sports too.  But Grandma told me that everyone got to go to the temple this past week and all the kids did baptisms and that really just made me smile.  I am SO greatful my little brother and sisters are worthy to go to the temple and that they do.  The world really is such a dirty place and I am so incredible proud and happy that they are live worthy to go to the temple because those are not popular standards to live.  ALWAYS be worthy of the temple and always remember it is more important than any swear word that makes you seem cool, any fight that your pride tells you that you need to win, or any R rated movie your friends want to see.  The temple is not worth a friend or a girl/boy friend or anything like that.  It is the House of the Lord and is the best.

                Lastly I just would ask that you could send me out my P-coat (mom will know what that is if you don't Dad). I love you all so much and you are all such good examples to me in ever aspect of life and especially of how to be a good missionary.  I love you all a ton!  Thank you Dad for everything and your emails, they really inspire me and focus me and I love to hear from you. Grandma thanks to for yours this week, it was great to hear about the temple and how life is going.  Thank you all for your letters, prayers, support and love for me. I am trying to write back to those who send mail as fast as I can.  I love my family and know we will be together forever.
  -Love your son/brother/grandson/nephew/cousin/uncle/friend Elder Neeley

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Baptism coming up

Dear family,
        Things are awesome here in Fresno.  I am absolutely loving my mission even when it is pretty tough and doesn't seem like the outlook is not always clear skies.  There is just such a joy in constantly striving to have success in helping our brothers and sisters to recieve the own personal salvation.  We have a family of four that I think I told you about who are going to get baptized on the 20th of November.  They came to church and arer super solid.  The 10 year old son asks us every time we see him "if we made his reservation for his baptism" haha.  We always assure him that we will definitely have everything set up for him and his family and their baptism.  The work is really in full blossom right now in our area and we can see the Lord's hand in the work so much it is incredible.

          I forgot to add last week in my email that I got to go street contacting (like just talking to random people on the street about the Restoration of the Gospel) with Elder Koelliker of the 70.  It was so awesome!!! It was just a blessing in itself to have some one on one time with a general authority.  Only two missionaries got to go and President picked a relatively new missionary (me) and a more experienced missionary.  I learned a lot about really being personal in everything I do as a missionary.  That you always need to go to other people's spiritual background before you bring them to yours.  It was fantastic and then I drove him and President to Zone Conference and it was a great ride filled with good spiritual conversation.  I can't tell you that I understand Revelations or Isaiah but I have definitely become a better missionary from it.

           Also I remember Mom telling me that Mrs Keegan passed away recently.  I was thinking about it and I really felt like the Spirit touched my heart and told me they need the Gospel in their lives at this time.  I know that this message is true and is designed to bring happiness into these exact situations that seem dark.  I hope and pray very often that the Spirit will attend you all in missionary work but specifically in this.  Please do this for me.  Pray to our Heavenly Father and ask Him what you should do in order to present the Gospel to their family.  Maybe going with the missionaries to see them is the answer, or inviting them over for dinner or family home evening, or being taught by the missionaries in your home.   I don't know but I do know 100% sure that our Father in Heaven loves them just as much as us and knows exactly what they need.  PLEASE pray to know what to do and then please reach out to this family.

      I am glad all is well at home and I am sorry to hear the football team lost, it seemed they would do well this year in the playoffs.  I got to go so this will be my only email this week but thank you everyone that sent me personal emails (Grandma and Uncle Keith and Dad).  I love you all so very much and really appreciate your love and support and prays for me and this work.  I am glad you are all so focused on helping out the missionaries and being missionaries your self.  You are all honestly such excellent examples to me and such an inspiration to me in my work.  I love you all so much.  I keep you in my prayers always.  I will send home lots of pictures home soon and ask Sarah for them too cause she should have them.  I love you all so much!!!!!!!  Also that is so awesome that you are all studying scriptures together.  That is SO important to building that love for them in the home and bringing in the Spirit.  Don't lose that habit no matter how hard satan works against you all.
-Love your son/brother/grandson/nephew/cousin/uncle/friend Elder Neeley

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Working hard

Dear family,
       Things are going really well here in the mission and I know that the Lord's hand is really pushing this work forward and as a missionary I just need to be obedient and worth so I don't get in the way of it.  I have kind of realized a new point of view on our Heavenly Father and how He works.  Often we think that He ceases to work or bless us based on our disobedience or that He works miracles based on our faithfulness and worthiness but really it is not.  I think that by realized what kind of person our Heavenly Father is we realize He is perfect and loving and therefore will not withdraw Himself or the Spirit but we move away from Him.  He is constantly desiring to bless us and constantly desiring to guide us and the only time He doesn't is if we, on our end impede His power in our lives.  I know that He will ALWAYS put people in my path on a daily basis that are ready to hear the Gospel.  Whether the miracle occurs of them recieving the invitation to be baptized depends on us and our faithfulness to trust Him and our worthiness to have the Spirit. 

            It is interesting because people believe that we, as Latter Day Saints, don't rely or acknowledge the Saviour's Atonement but we think that it is by our own power that we enter into the Kingdom of God but that is not true.  It is the same principle that God always wants to bless us.  The Atonment is necessary and is always there for us and Christ wants us to access it.  It will never fail and will never be shaken but WE must access it through our works and desires.  The Atonement saves us but only if we choose to use the healing power that it delivers us.  It is like we know that we must eat so we don't starve and physically die and the food is what is necessary to save us but if we don't eat the food, what good is it that someone sacrificed their time to make this gift for us.  We must constantly purify ourselves so that the power of God and the Atonement flows through us, not so that we help it along, but just so that we don't impede its ability to work in our lives and the lives we touch.
           So be worthy of it and watch the Lord send miracles through your lives as I will in mine. 
         To answer your question Dad I only go to the Temple every 3 transfers or 4 and a half months so it is WAY longer of a wait than what I was used to before my mission which is sad but I savor it a lot more when I get to go.

       Also in other news, Sixto did not get baptized because he wasn't able to overcome his problems like we thought he did so we will be working with him but we expect him to be baptized in the coming weeks.  Thank you all so much for your prayers for our investigators and I know and promise you that they are in fact helping this work here and these specific sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father.

     Yesterday we set a baptismal date with a family of 4 for the 20th of November!  It was awesome and the mother is the exact Joseph Smith story minus being a prophet and other stuff like that.  She has been searching and desiring the truth and she finally found it.  We met her Saturday at 5pm and didn't have a man with us so we could not go inside but she insisted on us teaching her in the doorstep.  So we had a 15-20 minutes lesson with her at the door and invited her to our Halloween party which started at 6pm that night which was in about 40 minutes from when we met her.  Her and her family accepted and came and they want to go to church on Sundays and the daughter already has friends and is going to Mutual with the young women and men and it is just such a miracle.  The Lord prepares people constantly and we must be worthy in order to have the Spirit and then listen to the Spirit when we have it.

        Everything is going so well here and I love this work.  Things are still always crazy and busy on Preparation Days so I will try to hand-write back to you all who wrote me but just be patient and they will come.  I am sorry if they all don't get back right away but I still love you all so much and appreciate the love, support, letters and prayers that you offer me and the people I work with.  I love you SO much and keep you in my prayers.

-Love your son/brother/grandson/nephew/cousin/uncle/friend Elder Neeley