Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Post Phone Call

Dear Family,

           It was so wonderful to speak with all of you!!! I really
enjoyed hearing the questions and telling you how my mission is going.
 It felt like the time went by in 5 minutes but I still enjoyed it and
appreciated getting to talk to all of you and know you are still doing
well.  It sounds like you all had a merry Christmas and that you had a
lot of missionary opportunities!

          Yesterday (the 26th) we had a lesson with two of our
investigators named Claudia and Roberto.  They have been taught for a
year which is kind of a long time but it was our first lesson with
them.  We followed the Spirit and changed the plans a little bit and
talked about how the Spirit answers and how they have already recieved
an answer that they need to be baptized.  They have fear though of all
their Catholic family not approving the decision.  We are praying for
them and they will be baptized soon I'm sure because they can feel the
Spirit but just need to act now.

            Elder Worthen and I still get along well and enjoy working
hard and teaching and finding everyone we can.  It is fun training and
sometimes a challenge but overall just a great learning and building
experience for us both.

            I don't have to much to say this week since we just talked
and all but I love you all so much!  I miss you all and I love being
here in Fresno serving the Lord.  It really does make me happy and I
know that this work will make others even happier than the way I feel
because it is true and I know that.  I hope you all can continue with
these missionary experiences and becoming closer to Christ yourselves.
 We must be converted first before the conversion of someone else.  I
am so glad for all of your examples to me and the love you all show me
and prayers you offer.  You are really thet best family an Elder can
ask for!  I love you all so much!!

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

Upcoming Christmas Call

Dear family,

So first and foremost we had a baptism this past week and I will be printing pictures today and sending them home as well as our Christmas card from the missionaries in the ward we are serving in. The young man who was baptized is named Alan Garcia and he is 18 years old and so awesome! His dad baptized him and it was a super spiritual experience. He is teaching his girlfriend with us and is talking about his mission and baptizing his sisters and serving the sacrament. He is amazing and the Holy Ghost and this message of the true Gospel on the earth has changed him. This work even though difficult, is more than worth every single minute and I love it. About the call this Sunday!!!! There will NOT be any pre-call on Saturday but on Sunday YOU WILL CALL ME at 4pm your time. Don't worry if you are a little late or don't get a hold of me right away. These are our plans but if something goes wrong, don't lose it or panic or anything like that. We will get to talk no matter what. 

I can't wait to talk to you all!! I love you so much and am looking forward to it but I am not losing a focus on why I am here or what I need to be doing. I love you all a ton. Today (Tuesday) was my preparation day because we got to go to the Temple today and it was fantastic. I love getting to go there and feeling the Spirit because it is not quite the same anywhere else. This Christmas Eve we get to watch a movie and we will be watching Tangled. Then we are going to a family's house for dinner and they will be having a big party there. To answer your question Dad if it is different, Mexican people only really celebrate the 24th and it is litterally an all day party of food, family, and presents(probably in that order haha, I am kidding). But there is a lot of food. Then on the 25th they just relax and don't do anything than just eat left over food and stuff like that. !!!!!! Dad if you could tell Ruth your daughter, my sister, that I got her letter and am sending her response back today. It will be there before Christmas.!!!!!!!! That is pretty much it from here in Fresno. I miss you all a ton and I know that this is where I need to be. I love being a missionary so much.

When I first got here I worked hard but I didn't really love it haha but for the last few months and now I can truly say that I LOVE my mission and more importantly love the Lord and love sharing that fact that anyone and everyone can and needs to use His sacrifice to be clean and happy for ever and ever. I know we will be together forever with out a doubt in my mind. We must be faithful to our covenants and we will always be a family. I know this is true just as we are living. I am so thankful for all the gifts I got from everone (haven't openned them yet) and more importantly all the love and the example that you all are to me. I love each of you and think and pray for each of you individually daily because you have all done so much for me and I want you to know that. I love you and can't say it enough. Merry Christmas to all of you!! Remember and be as the Savior is and wants you to be. -

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

PS I have noted now the spelling of Bishopric hahaha. My spelling is AWFUL since learning Spanish and I don't know why haha. LOVE YOU!!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas is Coming...

Dear family,
       It is great to hear everyone is doing so well and that everyone is getting prepared for Christmas.  Here in Fresno we have all our plans pretty much set up and it looks like we are going to have a great Christmas.  The work in this area is going really well and we love the work here.  Dad as for Christmas Eve I do not know when we are going to call but I will let you know as soon as I know.  Just keep your phone with you that day and if you don't pick up when I call you I will try ever couple hours to get you again so don't worry if you miss it or something.  The Lord will make sure we figure it out.  By the way did you know that Mexican people don't even really celebrate the 25th but the 24th is the holiday for them.  They all get together and have a huge dinner and open presents and stay up all night and then the 25th they just relax and eat left overs from the day before haha.  So we look forward to just relaxing a little on our Christmas and eating and talking.

         I really enjoy being a trainer and working with Elder Worthen.  He is a great missionary and we work hard and the Lord blesses this area we are in a TON.  We see miracles every day and it is awesome.  The Church is so true that sometimes I wonder why everyone is not jumping in the water and staying completely active forever.  Sure it is hard but there really is nothing like the Holy Ghost and feeling a calm assurance that everything will be ok through faith and obedience.  I love being a missionary and I know it has changed me and I know will continue to change me.  Not in a bad or weird way but I know I am closer to my older brother Jesus Christ and my Father in heaven.  I realized that to be a good missionary I must change because that is what I teach people: change.  None of us are perfect and we must all change and my mission especially must be a "point of no return" or my "Ebenezer".

             I love you all so much and know that you are all doing great and doing great missionary work and it makes me so proud and it sets such a good example for me to work hard and do the best I can every day.  Love your missionaries.  I hope all is well and keep you in my prayers.  Sarah I got your letter and Christmas card and it was wonderful!!  I also have 3 packages on the way so I am excited about that.  Mom and Dad I look forward to your Christmas card and my pictures have been sent so they should be there today or tomorrow if not already.  I get to go to the temple on Tuesday the 20th so I am excited for that and it is really cool Uncle Keith that you are doing sessions in Spanish and you better brush up if you are rusty cause we are speaking when I get home!  The work is good and so is the food.  You are all in my prayers and I love you all so much!  Thank you for all you do and all the prayers my way.  JoAnna I hope you can go get some other deer then and that you have a great Christmas with your family.  Tell Ryan I say hi and I love him and ton and he better be going to church!
  -Love your son/brother/grandson/nephew/cousin/uncle/friend Elder Neeley

Monday, December 5, 2011

Steven "the Trainer"

Dear Family,
       Things in Fresno are great.  We are really starting to get the hang of our new area and we see a lot of potential here.  The people are wonderful and more humble on this side of Fresno.  My new companion's name is Elder Worthen and he is 23 and from Idaho.  He is a wonderful missionary and is very humble and wants to work hard and be obedient.  He played football in high school and he was his schools starting center.  We get along great and we are working hard every day and seeing many miracles daily.  The Lord blesses us and we just need to let Him and recognize when He is.

           I am sorry you are all still waiting on the pictures.  I got them developed and they will be sent today.  I got them last week but had no stamps or envelopes to send them in.  But Elder Worthen said he would lend me some so they will be there with in the week.  Also if you would like to send me stamps and envelopes that would be a great gift for Christmas.  Also if any family members (like Sarah/Olivia and others) who have asked what I want for Christmas, stamps, envelopes, a cheap tie, candy, maybe a new wallet from one person not 10 haha.  Any of those would be great but what ever you send will always be much appreciated, oh and pens are good too haha.

     Get that Christmas tree up and nice and pretty.  We have one that is a foot tall and silver with pink ornaments.  It is great.  I think Sisters were here before us haha.  But all is well and I love you all and miss you a ton.  We will make a Christmas card soon too and send it home.  Also I got the Thanksgiving card with the money and stuff and it was great! thanks a ton and I love you so much and think and pray for you all daily.
-Love your son/brother/grandson/nephew/cousin/uncle/friend Elder Neeley
PS it is hard to spell well in english now because of learning spanish.  Sorry! Love you!!!!!!!!!!!!

Teresa DOES get baptized :)

Dear family,
           Things in Fresno are going really well.  I am super excited for the months to come because of some changes.  This transfer I am a Trainer and I get my Trainee this Thursday.  I am staying in the same ward but the boundaries are cut into 2 areas, East and West.  I have been working in East since I started my mission and now I will be training in the West area of the same ward.  Also now they have it where you train your Trainee for 2 tranfers instead of just one so I will be here for about 3 more months atleast.  I am super excited because I love this ward and am happy to be here for Christmas.  They all are very helpful and I have all their trust so it will be great training here.  Also our second counselor of the Bishopwrick is taking all 4 missionaries to Yosemite National Park when it snows so I will send pictures of that too.  It is just a little chilly here in Fresno but never really like winter.  We won't see snow at any point except in the mountains but we don't work up there.  It gets kind of foggy and that is as close to snow as it gets here.  Today I sent about 30 pictures home so they will be there within the week.  Sorry it took so long.  This next transfer we get to go to the Temple too so I am SUPER excited about that!  We can only go every 4 and a half months so you start to miss the Spirit there.

                Teresa the younger haha did get baptized last Wednesday after her Mom and brother got baptized that Sunday previous.  I baptized the 10 year old boy, Daniel and then all three were confirmed on Sunday and I confirmed Daniel, it was an awesome experience, all in Spanish.  Grandma to answer your question there is a 4th member of the family who is a 17 year old foster child named Angela.  The Dad of the family lives in Wisconsin because they are separated but not divorced.  With Angela we are teaching her and plan on setting a baptismal date with her tonight.  She always comes to Churhc with the family and loves Mutual every week and has tons of friends in the church so she will be baptized in the coming weeks!

               I don't know if you remember Sixto either but he is finally moving out of his crazy 8 man apartment and will be living by himself so he will easily be able to stop drinking.  We plan on his baptism sometime this month as well.

              I wrote letters to the younger brothers and sisters that wrote me and am working on writing the rest so just hold on and I promise they will get there.  Sorry I am not as good at writing back as I should be so forgive me and I will do better.  I am glad to hear that the family got to go home and be with each other.  That must have been really nice.  I missed you all too but we had a great dinner for Thanksgiving and we got to watch a movie called 17 miracles about the Willie Handcart Company.  You should all watch it cause it is really good and really brings the Spirit in strongly.  I thank you all so much for your emails and love to read them every week.  Also thank you a ton just for all the love and support you give me and the prayers that you offer for me and the work here in Fresno and these specific investigators.  Your the best family an Elder could ask for!  I love you all and always keep you in my prayers.  Also I am glad you got a system for family scripture study cause that will be such a blessing to do.  


Thanksgiving in Fresno

Dear family,

          Things in Fresno are going really well.  I promise that there will be pictures by next week, please don't disown me.  Also I figured as much about the P-coat haha so don't worry about it if it is a hassle.  I am glad to hear you are doing good missionary work, ask Heavenly Father in all of your prayers to bless you with missionary opportunities.  He will put those who are prepared in your way you just need to have the Spirit to act with in the moment it happens.  When we have the Spirit and we follow the Spirit, we need not fear because it is at that point that God is acting through us and we don't need to worry about messing up cause it is Him speaking.

          I am sad to hear about Barbara Edwards though.  I hope she is doing better but it is sad to hear that she is out of church because she is such an awesome lady.  That is also very awesome that you will all be having over some investigators for dinner on Thanksgiving because you cannot believe how important members are and the frienship you can provide for these people who don't really know at all the path they are going down, they just know it is good.

           That is also great to hear that everyone is doing well in Basketball and that Alex made the team and is progressing so much in Church and behavior and everything.  I love our family so much and I miss you all but I know that this work is so important and honestly I can see the changes and blessings in our family.

          For Thanksgiving we will be going over a white family's house that go to our ward.  The dad served in Guatamala and is the 1st counselor in the Bishopwrick and he has never had us over for dinner so he invited us for Thanksgiving and I am really excited.  We also have the Turkey bowl that morning and it will be great I am sure.  Mexican people do eat turkey but definitely prefer chicken over turkey.  It is not their favorite.  I feel like my spanish is pretty good and that I am comfortable talking with anyone about different subjects.  Definitely it is not perfect but President Gelwix asked me the other day if my spanish was good enough that I could train a missionary and I confidently answered "Si".  Also a side note we do call home on Christmas Day but I will call home on Christmas Eve just for 2 minutes and we will set up what time on Christmas Day we will actually talk so just be ready for that and me and you (Dad) will set up that time.  Tell Olivia that I will write her as well as Alex and Eleanor and everyone else that has been writing me.  But my favorite thing I guess is when some one is getting baptized and I picture them in the Temple one year from that day being sealed for time and eternity to their family who they love so dearly.  It is sad to think that some people won't be able to live with their family as a family forever but it makes it that much more of an over whelming joy that we have the oppurtunity to do so.  I love our family and that is the happiest and best part of this Gospel for me is that we will all be together and giving that to others is the best.   I love a lot of other things, a lot, but that is my favorite.

             The Romero family did get baptized, except for the 8 year old daughter Teresa.  It is really sad for me to think about but it will be ok.  She was in her white jump suit and when she was in the locker room she cried and said she couldn't do it.  There were a lot of people and I think that is what set off her fear because she is VERY shy.  So she said she wants to be baptized but yesterday the 20th was just not the day she was ready for it.  It is was amazing though to see Sister Romero and Daniel be baptized.  I baptized Daniel and a member baptized Sister Romero.  I will send pictures.  It was amazing and Sister Romero stood up afterward and said she was there to be a good member and serve everyone in the ward if anyone would ever need anything and then anounced her phone number and address.  It was unusual but you could feel the sincerety and testimony in her voice as she talked about her desire to serve.  It was an awesome night.

            I love you all and hope all is well.  I know this Church is true and I see it everyday in this work.  I will know if I am leaving or staying here next time I email but I hope I stay because the work is great here and I love this ward.  I love you all so dearly and thank you for the love, support and prayers you offer for me and this work and these people here.  You are the best family anyone could ask for.  I love you.

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