Monday, March 19, 2012

A Few Bumps in the Road

Dear family,
              Things have been difficult recently here in the mission.  Our family of 4 who are supposed to get baptized missed church again because of things that came up so now it we have to push the baptism of 2 of them back a week and we need to sit down and talk about the importance of keeping commitments and especially coming to church.  It is frustrating because they are good people and are going to get baptized but Satan is certainly working hard to keep them out of the water.  We are going to see them tomorrow and we are going to make sure they are back on track to baptism and recieving the Gift of the Holy Ghost.  As well this weekend one of our Zone Leaders needed to go to the Emergency Room (internal bleeding in the stomach) and because of scheduling difficulties I had to go with him and we were there for 6 hours.  Then on Sunday I had to stay with him again because he was still sick but atleast he was back home in his apartment and I stayed with him there.  So the work was a little slower this week but I know that as we serve as missionaries doing the best with what we have the Lord will bless us and make up for the rest.  It is always that way in all things in life, that through our best work we give all to the Lord and then through faith in Him, He makes up the rest.  I have been praying to serve more and reach out to others more and the Lord has answered my prayers in waves and buckets of service and I cannot complain cause He definetly listens.

                As for my license I can just get a CA drivers license they said and then you don't have to worry about anything but also they said that some states allow you to renew it over the internet but our Vehicle Coordinator doesn't know about PA.  Do you know if I need to fill out something to renew it or do I only need to send you a picture and you can renew it?  I think it may just be easiest if I get a CA drivers license so I will just do that and if you object for some reason then call the mission office at 559 445 1467 and Sister Mauro will answer the phone (I just called her and she did say that you as my parents can call the mission office but calling me would be the only issue haha).  She is from PA too and she is my mission mom and she takes care of me while I am here and we are all going to hang out after the mission in PA and they will come to a Steeler game with us cause I told them we have season tickets but that is besides the point!  If you have any objection to my CA divers license then call the office.

                I have stopped reading Jesus the Christ but I promise I am going to start again it is just tough to find time with all the different responsibilities and investigators to study for but I will do it.  Also I did go to Yosemite and I will be printing pictures to send so just hold tight and they will be coming!  It is super warm out here and that is awesome that you are all going to the beach and Nate is coming.  Give him a big bear hug and tell him I could take him if I were home right now haha.  That is amazing too that Ruth is SO fast.  Tell Lauren Williams or whatever her name is from Rochester to watch out.

                  I could probably get like half of the articles of faith or maybe some more but not all of them.  That is something I would really like to work on as a missionary is memorizing those because I used to have all of them in primary.  Also tell Chris Hoke and President Carter I say hi and I love them as well as everyone else.  I wrote a letter to the young men of the ward and will send it home to you and if you could take it in to them that would be great.  I also heard actually the Chris retired cause I had dinner with a guy with the last name Lawrence who is good buddies with Chris from BYU and he told me that he retired.  I try to keep up with my friends from BYU but everyone outside of Elder Koford (Jordan) is in Russia or Brazil so it is tough to keep up with them but I have heard from them.

               Well I love you all and promise that pictures will be on the way. I miss you all so much but I LOVE my mission and fear that day when it must end so I just try to not think about it.  I love to serve and will my whole life. I hope you all cherish your missions still to this day as I do now and always remember that you are all always a missionary til death and even beyond that in the world to come.  I love you so much and am so greatful for your examples to me and especially Mom and Dad for raising me to love the Lord and love obedience.  Dad please tell me about some stories from your mission in Italy.  PLEASE!!  I love you so much and keep you in my prayers.
-Love your son/brother/grandson/nephew/cousin/uncle/friend Elder Neeley

Monday, March 12, 2012

Steven vs. "the big lady" (hint: Steven wins) :)

March 5th, 2012
Dear family,
          I feel like my mission is flying by and I don't know where the time is going.  Right now we have some solid investigators preparing for baptism on the 25th of March and we are very excited for them.  They are 4 young women named Maria (late early 30's), Maggie 22, Jenny 18 and Iridian who is 15.  They are really funny and they came on a Church tour and they all fealt the Spirit so strong.  This was my companion's very first day with me about 5 hours after we met and the tour was a complete train wreck.  There is a format usually for how it goes and it was hard to follow since my companion had only been in the field for a day and a half haha.  But it was a testimony to me that it doesn't matter what we know or how talented we are but if we are worthy and doing our best then the Spirit will make up for everything else.  It didn't matter that my companion was jumping everywhere or that there were awkward pauses or bad spanish.  The Spirit took us where we were at and made up the rest because we did all we could and now those Sisters and preparing for baptism because they unmistakeably felt the Holy Ghost.  The mom Maria said she felt it twice like a big hug that came over her all of a sudden.  It was a miracle.

           We have some other investigators that have very good potential for baptism but we need to work really close with them to keep them running and feeling the Spirit so that they are ready.  Oh by the way here is a good story!  So me and another Elder that was going to train were together for one day while waiting til the next day to get our official companion.  So we went to see a less active but he was not there due to miscommunication.  So we stopped by the house of the neighbor of this member.  There was just a drunk man out on the porch and the contact wasn't going anywhere so we gave him and card and were going to leave when his girlfriend came out who is like 50 and she was talking coherently so we talk to her.  So they let us sit down with them on their back porch and we start talking about the Book of Mormon and she is telling us just to teach her from the Bible cause she doesn't need some "little guide book" so we asked if we could explain briefly for 5 minutes about the Book of Mormon and then we would leave if she didn't like it.  So we start and she cuts in about how the church is in you and the church is in me and religion is man made and we just need to read the Bible and love God.  Then her husband/boyfriend guy was like wait I want to get baptized and so we say that through prayer God  can show him where (which Church) he should be baptized.  Then she yells out "I can baptize you in the tub if you want!" and start laughing like a crazy person.  So we felt like it isn't going anywhere and so I tell her to read the Book of Mormon and God can tell her if it is true and she starts going crazy and starts raising her voice till she is screaming saying how we need to teach what is in the Bible and need to share the message about saving others not some church that is man made or some "little book".  During this she gets up, while screaming at me and is getting closer and closer to me until she is right over me (and she was a big lady) and her spit is getting on me.  And she is just yelling about how we just need Christ and not anything we had in our "little book".  And then she started poking me in the chest!  So I said she is right and we need Christ and that He is is found in this "book".  She continued to ask "Just answer me this, is that little book more important than the Bible?"  There was a 5 second pause and I said "yes" and she kicked us out and pretty much told us never to come back.  I felt like Satan was sitting right there by that lady the whole time.

        So I love my mission and it literally is the greatest thing I have been able to do as my own personal service.  I am still working out and I have not finished reading Jesus the Christ but I need to and am going to.  I am in Mosiah in the Book of Mormon and in Acts in the New Testament.  I hope you are all searching for opportunities every day to share the Gospel and invite others to come to Christ in any means possible which may just be dinner at the house.  Uncle Keith I have not had a "perfect day" yet and like you said it is extremely difficult but I am constantly striving to be exactly obedient and pray one day to get there.  I love you all so much and do plan on writing you all more often so just wait for those letters.  I love you and pray for you all.  Thank you for all you do and all the prayers for me.
-Love your son/brother/grandson/nephew/cousin Elder Neeley