It has been awesome to hear about your trip to Alaska and now it sounds like you are at the beach! That sounds like a lot of fun. Here in the mission things are going great and I am loving it. My companions and I are getting along great and we are having a blast working hard and being obedient. My first companion, Elder Burnett does not go home until September atleast and Elder DeWitt is still waiting on his visa for Argentina so it looks like more and more that he may just be staying here which would be great for the mission but for his sake I hope he goes. He has been a good sport about waiting and being focused on the work here in CA but I think it would really break his heart to know that Argentina is never going to come. He is such a good missionary and is just new still but he knows just what he is doing. We are preparing for a baptism this next Saturday and hopefully we will have one the following Saturday. We have one scheduled but this week will determine a lot. The one in 2 weeks is a 9 year old boy whose family needs to get on the ball so he can be active and ready for baptism. They are all members but him and his sister who will be baptized at the same time, she is 8 years old. Their names are Chris (the boy) and Mel. If you could keep them in your prayers that would be wonderful.
I think that I would consider my self good at speaking but not really fluent. I can understand all the conversation from day to day but there are still so many areas of conversation like science or anatomy that I am still learning. I don't think I could translate for you Dad in the hospital but for the rest of the day I could in just your everyday conversation. I know a little in each "field" I guess you could say but I couldn't explain how to fix your car in spanish.
I understand it being crazy all the time with vacation and what not going on and then trying to do family scripture study or prayer but I just wanted to give you a reminder about it. I know you are all working hard but just know the Lord wants your best which is not perfection. So if that is only 3 people at prayer cause that is all that is home then that is what we do. I know you know this stuff but it is just something that has impressed me recently so I thought I would give the whole family a reminder.
We were running the other day at 6 30 and a chiwawa that started chasing us and I went to punt it and it ran away. Good times. I am not always a morning person and that chiwawa realized that as my foot went over its head. The rest of the run was peaceful.
Well I love you all so much and I am really sorry that I don't write anyone ever but I have more time to email so just email if that works if not I will make the time to write but email is easier. I keep you in my prayers and thought every day. I hope you are all being missionaries and bringing yourselves to Christ as well as others EVERY DAY. Love you!!! And with everyting going on I won't be extending so don't worry about it. President would let me I think but I would need to ask him and that would mean that I have no other obligations to be home and I am pretty sure he wouldn't approve of me extending with my time schedule. If he were to ask me out of neccesity I would extend but he has never done that since I have been here so it is pretty much I won't be extending. I love you!
-Love your son/brother/grandson/nephew/cousin/uncle/friend Elder Neeley
P.S. Uncle Keith I have noticed a difference since being here in the northern part of the mission in the language. Only slightly because it has been very Americanized across the board but about 90% of the people up here are all from a certain state of Mexico and in Fresno they were from a variety and about 40% from another different state of Mexico so it was different a little bit. But I am sure it is nothing compared to what you experienced from country to country.
I am glad to hear that your trip to Alaska went well. Did you see any whales? I bet it was beautiful being out there in the wild. How was the food? I heard that is the best part of the cruise, all the crab, steak and lobster you can eat.
How is family scripture study going? What about the kids personal scripture study and prayer. Those things are so important for them especially with the hard storm of temptation that they are facing. It truly is like nothing I am sure that you and mom saw in your day and I am sure you recognize that. But being on a mission I have truly seen the filth that is the television, high school, and internet. I am not trying to sound like I am getting up on the pulpit and doing some holier than thou speech but it is true. The younger kids have missiles in their lives and they need the defense of the scriptures and prayer. President Kimball said "I do not worry about the youth that will say their prayers TWICE a day". The Prophets only ever talk about the youth and how they are so worried about the imense temptation they face in this generation but he said he would not worry about those who pray twice daily. That is quite the statement. Make sure that is something you ask them and ask them. We can't make anyone do anything but we can teach and invite and follow up. Make sure they know 1) the danger all around them and 2) the way to defend them selves from it. I know you are doing a good job and I know because of all you taught me but I know I didn't do those 2 things enough growing up. Encourage them to do so and make sure that you get to the temple as often as possible.
The work is going really well. This month we are committed, and obssessed with every companionship baptizing this month of July. It is a feat that has never been done. We will have all 11 companionships baptizing through the Lord's power and mercy. It is our only desire this month. We baptized a lady named Maria Duarte yesterday and we have another baptism on the 14th of July. We are very excited for the work right now. We have a lot of good missionaries in the zone this transfer and I would like to say that we are "stacked".
On another note we ate out of a taco bus today and the lady who just got baptized was baptized by a recent convert who had got baptized exactly one week earlier and then got confirmed and recieved the preisthood and baptized Maria. It was so awesome!
Maria lives alone and has like 6 dogs who are all pretty sickly and one even has 3 legs and there is another we things is pregnant who goes to the bathroom in front of us every time we come over. It is kind of sick but we love Maria! Everything is good and I am about to go play basket ball and have a little relax time for preparation day. I love you all so much and care and pray about you every day. I hope all is well and especially that you are all being missionaries every day. Invite you friends to church! Get over to the house for FHE or something. I love you SO MUCH!!!
-Love your son/brother/grandson/nephew/cousin/uncle/friend Elder Neeley
It is good to hear that everything is going great so far with the cruise in Alaska and that you got to see Uncle Bob and Ryan. I bet it is beautiful up there in Alaska. Is it really cold there or is it warm enough since it is summer right now. Here in Ceres it is cooler than Fresno but it still got up to 105 the other day. Today though it is not too bad with a light breeze that cools things down. Also do you get to see any whales or anything on the cruise cause that would be so awesome! Take some pictures for me if you do.
We are super busy since being a Zone Leader. We have appartment checks this week so we have to drive all over the Turlock Zone to see all the different appartments and make sure no one is living in filth. As well on Wednesday we have to make sure everything goes well with transfers and then on Friday we go to Fresno for Zone Leader Council. It is busy but I love being able to serve and help others to succeed. I think that is the real key to happiness. Just focusing on others makes me so happy and completely forget my own problems which aren't as stressful as we make them out to be sometimes.
We are also going to be splitting the Branch with Sister missionaries because the work is going so well. So we have to find a house for them in 2 days before they transfer here or 2 missionaries will be living with us and the Sisters will be in their home until we can get them a place to stay until the 25th of July. Because then a Senior couple in our Zone finishes their mission and the Sisters are going to move in there.
We just had a baptism yesterday of Jose Cabrera and he is doing so good. He is getting confirmed next Sunday and will get the Priesthood and then when his friend Ivan gets married and baptized Jose will baptize him. It is very exciting and our next baptism is this next Sunday of a lady named Maria Duarte who is in her 60's or 70's and she is so nice and funny. She lives by herself and has like 6 dogs and she has a son in prison. She has had some tough times but she is very excited to be baptized. She is the friend of a recent convert of about a month who introduced her to the gospel as well. The work is going awesome here.
I still have my same companions Elder Burnett and Elder DeWitt. Elder DeWitt is awaiting his visa and it can come any day now they say so we don't know how much longer he will be waiting to go to Argentina. Elder Burnett has 2 transfers left (about 3 months) and so he will probably finish his mission here but we don't know. Also we have had a few zone meetings which are just the Zone and I have always done training in those because they are ran by us as Zone Leaders. With Zone Conference (which is multiple zones) I have not done any training cause it is usually just President and some guest people or counselors of the mission presidency.
I love you all so much and I love being a missionary. I know I tell you every week but I do love it so much. I am so greatful for the time I have here and try to work my hardest to make it count. I love it! I have felt the Spirit so strong and I have learned so much more about my Heavenly Father and how good of a relationship I can have with Him. He knows us and is a real person like you and me. It is wonderful the changes I have been make in my life as I learn more about the Gospel and come closer to my Saviour. Go be a missionary every day so that you can feel this joy that I feel every day of my life. I love you and pray for you.
-Love your son/brother/grandson/nephew/cousin/uncle/friend Elder Neeley
Things are going great here in Ceres. We just baptized a young man named Armando Garcia who is the son of the family we baptized 9 days ago. Armando was baptized on Thursday the 14th and confirmed the following Sunday. This next Sunday we have a baptism of a man named Jose Cabrera. He is about 22 years old and has had a a really rough life from being a in a gang. He got shot in his ear and the bullet went down through his mouth and they had to reconstruct his mouth and all sorts of stuff. He says that he can feel his brain move around sometimes in his head! He has been a heavy drinker and missed his first baptismal date in May because of that but since we have been working with him a lot more consistantly (and therefore because he has felt the Spirit more) he has stopped drinking and is super excited for his baptism on Sunday. The Spirit does the converstion and the changing of hearts we just need to be the biggest and purest vessel that we can be in order to carry the Spirit. We do that obviously by being worthy, obedient, committed and focused. We have a lot of other investigators that are pretty set to get baptized in July and we are very excited for them as well. I will be letting you know about them as their baptism comes closer.
On another note here is a border crossing story. A missionary that is serving here is from Riverside CA (5 hours away) and he is here because he is not a citizen so they keep him close to home. This is so there is no need to travel and need a passport or something. He crossed when he was 7 and he was hidden in between a set of seats and the back of the car(there was no trunk) and he was covered by some blankets and stuff and when they stopped the driver told him he would turn of the music and that meant he could not move a muscle and couldn't make any sound whatsoever. So they were driving and the driver stopped and hit the power button and he froze. They looked through some stuff and never saw him and they let him go. He lived in a garage with his mom and they are dirt poor. He is the only member in his family and his mom said she was going to burn down the church when he decided to serve a mission. Thank you all so much for supporting me and being wonderful parents and family to me. I can only imagine the struggles this missionary friend of mine feels . Thank you so much again. I love you all so much.
Thanks a ton for the Sestito's address. I will be sending my letter to them today. As well I will talk to President about extending my mission but I will do what is best and I appreciate your support in that. I understand the consequences of the different decisions and I will let you know for sure in the close future. I love you all SO much and pray that you be missionaries every day.
-Love your son/brother/grandson/nephew/cousin/uncle/friend
Sorry about the short email last week, this one will be a little better. This area is awesome and I am still speaking spanish just as much here as I did in Fresno. There are tons of hispanics and we speak quite a bit in our companionship because we are training Elder DeWitt who is waiting on his visa to go to Argentina. He is an awesome missionary who works hard and is really smart. My other companion who is teaching me how to be a Zone Leader is Elder Burnett and he is REALLY smart, like a genius. We have 7 baptisms for this weekend and we are super excited for them. I will get some pictures and send them off this month some time. One of them, Juana, is the sister of a recent convert who got baptized a week ago and then 2 cousins of the same recent convert. Their whole family is hilarious I love them so much. They are just awesome and they love the Gospel and the Lord. Another 3 of the 7 are all a family (a son, daughter and a faither) who are cousins of Juana and her sister (the recent convert) as well. The father, daughter and son, are only 3 of 5 in the family as wll and the other two (the mom and another son) will probably be baptized some time in this month as well. Then the last of the 7 is an 11 year old who is named Elizabeth who is the friend of a recent convert who is 11 or 12 to and she comes to church with her friend every week. We are super excited and the work is going so well.
I did get the email last week and I thought I commented on Ruthe's awesome preformance but if not... IT WAS AWESOME! That is so cool that as a freshman she is already a track all star and champion of the world. Just tell her not to be prideful and to not get caught up in things that are nice but are not actually important in the scheme of eternity. Tell Nate also that I said congrats and I am super happy for him to be married.
Also our apartment is now fine and we just need to clean the carpet and move our stuff back downstairs when we feel like it but I am enjoying it up stairs. As well like 60 to 80 percent are illegal here but I really don't care I just love them all the same. They are our brothers and they need the Gospel. Don't tell Uncle Ed I said that haha but that is how I feel. We never really use our bike every since I have been here except for an exchange I had with our District leader. I still work out and now they have us running every day cause some elders didn't work out really so they did a mission wide program. So i am still skinny and muscular for the most part so don't worry about that. I eat so much mexican food and still don't put on weight.
I am so glad to hear that you are all being missionaries! That is so amazing and I know that people may not be super interested most of the time but it is all worth it for the 1 who is. Keep it up. Keep helping the missionaries cause they need it. I love you all so much and keep you in my prayers. I love you!!!!!!!!!!!