Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Pictures from Nov. 9th Email :)

Sister Allen and Sister Neeley 

Sister Allen aka my twin!

November 9, 2015

Everyone I love :)

So this week has been full of lots of change even though I am still in Mountain House. My new companion Sister Allen is just amazing and we work so well together (as well as have so much fun together). She is from Virginia and has been out on her mission for about 13 months. We are like the same person, it is kind of hilarious. I am really excited for this transfer with her. I am learning so much from her already, she is an amazing sister missionary and knows how to have fun as well. Hermana Arevalo (the missionary I was training last transfer) is doing awesome in Modesto and is also serving as a sister training leader- and it is only her 2nd transfer! She is just so great. Being a sister training leader is very time consuming I am finding out which can be stressful sometimes. Sister Allen and I serve all of the English sisters in the whole mission. We go on exchanges at least once with each companionship and then more as that is multiple exchanges a week. Plus there are some extra meetings we are needed to attend and such. Basically what I am trying to show is that we have much less time to work in my area than I am used to and it can be hard to balance. We are promised though that when we are working with the other sisters, God is working in our area and I have already seen that promise come to pass just in our first week of the transfer. I really really love working so closely with all the sisters though. I LOVE it. The opportunity I have to serve with them and really help them has blessed me and helped me grow more than anything. 

One lesson I am really learning through this calling already is following the spirit exactly and immediately. When we have a prompting about a sister we stop what we are doing and we go see her. We have had an amazing experience following a prompting this week. We both could not get a certain sister off our mind so we went to visit her for nightly planning and it turns out they were in need of some comfort and guidance that night. I was shocked out how directly the spirit was working through us. As I strive to be even more obedient with Sister Allen and willing to follow the spirit every single time, I know that Heavenly Father will trust us more and more with direct promptings of how we can serve our sisters here. One last thing I will say about this new calling is that I am so grateful of how close I get to work with President and Sister Palmer. I am only understanding a small, small bit of how much work, care, prayer, and love they put into the missionaries- particularly the sister missionaries. It motivates me to do the same, to sacrifice more, and to love even more. They just radiate love and the light of Christ. I pray I can help convey that love and light to all the sisters.

This week with Sister Allen working in our area has been just the greatest. We had one downfall...literally...we crashed on the bikes but it was funny to laugh it off. I had some gnarly bruises but that's all. We now a have a car so that we can travel around to the different sisters, but we bike still everywhere when we work in Mountain House because bikes are better than cars for missionary work. It is fun to be in an area so long that people really start to be familiar with me. Not just ward members but the community as well. We frequently get waved to and chat with neighbors which feels really good to me, it feels like we belong and aren't just those two weird girls who ride their bikes in long skirts (not my words). There are lots of punk teenage kids here as well, who are familiar with us now.. familiar enough to chase us as we bike by. They are funny, and hey at least they aren't dogs.

So our area is just exploding with potential and I haven't been the best at keeping you all update on who I am teaching so I will try to briefly because these people are changing my life as I help them change theirs. They are so amazing. David is the husband of a woman who has been inactive for over 30 years, DeAnne. She took a long time to warm up to us- a long time. I have been knocking on her door like once a week since I got here, so like 3 months. She would be too busy and shew us away and say come back next week... so little to her surprise we always did come back the next week. Finally one day, her husband David answered instead and we talked with him on the porch and bore our testimony to him and at the time it seemed of little impact but something we said touched his heart. We have been teaching him ever since and he is just the most sincere person I think I have ever met. DeAnne too. She is so sweet as we got to know her more. She came to church last sunday and it was the best sunday. DeAnne shared her perspective in relief society of how she felt about us coming to teach her and David and I needed to hear that. I sometimes am oblivious to just how great the impact of our message is to people, but DeAnne reminded me sunday and it was a huge confirmation to me that this really is the Lord's work and I am apart of it. I am so grateful to be apart of it. As for Sue and her boys...they still have not contacted us or other sisters she became friends with from the ward. I continue to pray for her daily and have faith she will remember the spirit she felt and desire to have that again some day. It is still hard for me though. Looking back on my time with her, I tend to get very critical of myself but I trust that this is all part of a bigger plan for her and her family. Monique is another woman we are helping and the changes in her life are so amazing. She is a strong woman of really great faith. Watching her sacrifice in order to follow the Gospel of Jesus Christ as restored through a modern day prophet and to be an even better mother for her girls has touched my heart. There are other families and individuals who are touching my life daily here and I have had so many experiences that just confirm in my heart that I am here in Mountain House for a specific reason and that I really am being a instrument for God as I live obediently and follow the spirit. 

Just with changes in policy of the church that have been going on, I would just like to end with my testimony of modern day prophets. I know that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet called directly of God. I know that his council and words are not just an opinion or his idea, but it is revelation given by God. I do not know the full picture of how things work here on earth, no one does, but Heavenly Father. I trust in His love and trust that He guides us through a prophet. I know that sometimes a few pieces of the puzzle do not always seem to fit together in our heads, but I trust in my personal testimony that the full puzzel (The restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ) is true. It is okay for us not know how it all fits. Whenever I doubt, I know I can kneel in sincere prayer and ask if Thomas S. Monson is His prophet and if this is His true church, and He will answer me because I am His daughter and I matter to Him.

I love you so much, thank for you all the prayers!
all my love,
Sister Neeley

Third Transfer

November 2nd, 2015

Hello everyone I love!

So tomorrow is the start of my third transfer! Time is flying! I found out that I will be staying in Mountain House again! I will get a new companion though, Sister Allen, and we will both serve as sister training leaders. A sister training leader is like a zone leader but for the sisters. We will go on exchanges with the sister companionships and help them with whatever their needs are. We are short on sister training leaders so we will be over probably two or more zones of sisters, but it is still being worked out. I am sad to leave hermana arevalo because we spoke spanish together a lot but I will continue to read in spanish in my few free moments and speak with the members of our ward that are spanish. I am so excited to be with Sister Allen, she is really cool and we are really similar so this transfer will be super amazing I can tell already! And I get to see President and Sister Palmer even more as a sister training leader which is a huge plus for me, I love being around them. They are so encouraging and I am always uplifted and motivated to be better. Also I really love the Mountain House Ward so I am happy to be with them still. They are amazing. 

So our baptism did not go through on saturday. Which was sad because the boys really wanted to be but their dad was not supportive so the mom put the brakes on it. Since then, us or the ward has not been able to reach out to them. Everyday that goes by with no replies makes a bigger pit in my stomach. I am constantly pouring over what I said and thinking how maybe I could have done this or that better. We just care about them as a family and we want them to have the peace that the Gospel can bring which only comes through the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. I have faith In God's timing and that Jesus Christ will fill in all the gaps that I lack as a missionary. 

We are starting to see rain here! It is pouring all day today. It is exciting because we have been in such an awful drought as you probably know. 

I love you a lot and pray for you all at home. My ponderize scripture this week is Mosiah 27:14. I am focusing my studies on how we get answers to prayers this week. I am excited for all the change this transfer will bring!

All my love,
Sister Neeley

Almost Out Three Months (already!!)

October 26th

Hello everyone I love!

I love you and miss you so much. I got the two Halloween packages that mom sent me! They were so great! It really made my day. I am happy to know Ruthe is doing well and I am praying for fast healing. I sent her a get well card, I hope she gets it. I have been out almost three months, on the 29th it will be 3! It doesn't feel like 3 months. Time is flying by. I am happy to hear the boys are in playoffs. I miss football season! I wish I could see them play. I am SO excited to hear the family did family history for family night and that alex and olivia submitted names for the temple. That is so cool! I am jealous I can not go to the temple for a year and a half while on my mission. I will not take the temple for granted once I get home. Anthony's birthday is November 10th. He will be 21. If everyone will send him a happy birthday card in the mail that would make him so happy I bet!!! His address is:
Elder Anthony James DiNuzzo
Indonesia Jakarta MIssion
Jalan Senopati 115
Kebayoran Baru
Jakarta 12190

Remember that you need extra extra stamps to send a letter to Indonesia, like 6 or 7 but you can check at the post office. 

This week has been a little tough. I have been sick for awhile and it just has been getting worse. At a zone conference I saw president palmer and he told me to call sister palmer, his wife about how I am feeling. Long story short they called in some antibiotics for me because they think I have/had bronchitis. I am starting to feel better and things are good. I have to still see a doctor wednesday just to be checked out though in Modesto. My companion and I are frustrated we have to go all the way to Modesto and use up all that time, but after this it should be all behind us! I am really thankful to be gaining energy back and my voice back haha. The weather here is still pretty hot compared to home but some nights it gets pretty chilly. I think the colder weather is starting to set in which I am totally okay with. I hate sweating as we ride on our bike to apartments. When it gets cold I might take my words back haha, but for now I am thankful for it! I like serving in Mountain House for the most part. There are a lot of diverse people here. We run into people who do not speak English every day. There are a lot of Indian and Middle Eastern, but a little bit of Hispanic too mixed in. It is cool to learn about their cultures and their stories of why they chose to move to the United States. Some of the stories are very amazing and make me thankful for life I have been able to live here. A cool realization I have been slowly having is that being myself is the best way to do missionary work. Seems like a no brainer when I write it out like that... but in real life here on the mission I feel like it is all too easy to make talking to people on the street and teaching them overly complicated. I feel like at times because I am a missionary I have to know everything or be a certain kind of way, but when I just push away those pressures and be myself I am more comfortable and my testifying is more powerful. I am a missionary of the Lord, that is ALSO a unique person with unique experiences and a unique personality. As I play on those truths, I find that talking to people isn't scary at all and that they too are real people with real experiences and we connect. 

A funny story I wanted to say was that one afternoon my companion and I were trying to contact a member's referral. As we parked our bikes some high school boys playing basketball on the street yelled over to us and wanted to talk. They came over and it turns out two of the boys were the sons of two inactive part-member families that hermana arevalo and I have been trying to meet with! We talked about the church and what they thought of it, it was a really good conversation. Afterwards they said they would come to church maybe. I decided to challenge them to a game of horse. If I won, they would have to come to church. If the boy won they didn't have to (although they still should). No bragging but... I him- twice. Then beat the other boy as well. It was fun way to get to know the boys and connect with them. They didn't end up coming sadly but we feel like we made some progress, and as we continue to work with each of their families that it will be a better experience for us. And hopefully as they start to come to church again they will bring their friends as well. 

Sue and her family is supposed to be baptized on Saturday. I love their family so much and watching them grow and change as they come to know the truth of Jesus Christ and the Book of Mormon has been an amazing experience. Their dad found out though who lives in another town and is not supportive so we now are on hold about what the boys will decide to do. It was heartbreaking to hear, but God has a reason for everything. The restored gospel of Jesus Christ would help their family in so many ways, I am praying for their dad to have his heart softened and for the boys to remember the truths that they felt in their personal prayers. We are teaching some other new families as well and I am excited to get to know and love them just as I have with Sue's family. 

I love you and I pray for you all at home! Remember to send all letters and packages to the mission home for me! The problem has been resolved and I get my mail when it is sent to the mission home. By next monday I will know where I will be for my third transfer which is so exciting! I can not believe it is already here! Have a great week I love you.

all my love,
Sister Neeley xoxoxo

Pictures from Oct. 5th Email :)

I made pumpkin muffins for zone conference. They turned out great!!

Setting High Goals

Oct. 5th, 2015

Hey! I love you and miss you!

General Conference was this past weekend and every session was so uplifting and inspired. Elder Holland's amazing amazing talk about mothers made me miss mine. You are the best mom and I love you, and same goes to all the other mother figures in my life. General Conference made me miss home a little bit, but that was quickly overcome as I really listened to each talk. I felt the spirit so strongly. I feel encouraged to keep working hard, as well as a long list of things I need to improve on. It really was an amazing amazing experience. I encourage anyone who missed a session to go back and watch it. It may seem long and time consuming but I promise you will not regret it one minute.

My companion and I set some pretty high goals for ourselves this week. We made some, and fell short on some. It was disappointing. We felt like we worked so hard, harder than I ever have, and we did not make the progress we thought we should. We both thankfully recognized where these feelings were coming from -not from Heavenly Father- and we then focused on all of the great progress we were able to make in the area. On a mission, and in life, I find that it is really hard to feel like I am enough or that I am doing a good job. The world is constantly telling us that we need to be bigger and better, and we can be to an extent. I am learning that whenever I am feeling overwhelmed with feelings of inadequacy or that I did not do a good enough job, the person I need to ask is my Heavenly Father. I can always kneel in prayer and ask "Was that good enough, did I do okay?" and I will receive an answer. I have felt God's love for me so strongly as I have been trying to do this, as well as very clear things I can do in order to improve. I know my Heavenly Father loves and is mindful of me.

It is funny how all of our investigators we are teaching are not from the United States. They are all foreigners, well except one. It has been so fun and interesting to learn about where each is from. One is from Lebanon, two are from Iran, and couple others that are from some Spanish speaking countries. We met this family from India who are Sikh and they grow their breads our forever and ever. This guy's beard was down to his waist and he tucks it up into his turban to keep it clean- so cool. We have a really big Sikh population here. They all walk around with long beards and turbans and I feel like I am in a movie or something haha, and they are all so friendly too. Just the nicest people. 

Well we are working hard here and getting used to being in a all biking area. My legs are so spent by the end of the day. They used to be sore all the time, but now it is not so bad. I love you all and I am sorry if anyone's mail got returned, I am trying to fix that problem with the mission office. I love letter though, they brighten my day so keep sending them! I love and miss you all. Thank you for your prayers.

all my love,
Sister Neeley

Eleanor the Trainer!

September 28th, 2015

Hola familia y amigos que se quiero!!

This week has been full of changes, some harder than others but they all have proven to be such a blessing this transfert! If you have not heard I am training now a new missionary from the MTC. She is a spanish sister, Hermana Arevalo. She is a native spanish speaker so her spanish is awesome obviously. She grew up in Guatemala until she was 11 and lived in Texas until she left for her mission. I am taking this opportunity to really improve the good amount of spanish I already know. She is very patient with me and loves that I want to learn. She is really helpful. We both have expressed the desire to be exactly obedient and work as hard as we possibly can. We both know that as we do this and have faith, Heavenly Father will provide us with miracles. We are totally on the same page and want to work really hard so I am so blessed and excited for this transfer, and my new companion. I am not sure how long I will be serving with hermana arevalo because at the end of this transfer we are getting another large amount of sisters president says but who knows! The mission is still pretty new and still trying to get to a stable number of sisters and elders. We are serving in Mountain House (my second transfer here), so it is primarily english, but even here we find people who benefit from our spanish. I am so excited to be with a spanish speaking companion! 90% of my district is spanish speaking, even my sister training leaders are spanish sisters so it is really a blessing for me, and a tender mercy from God. 

Training a new missionary for sure makes me feel anxious. She looks to me for an example advice, and answers. I want so badly to provide that for my new companion. I have realized that I can even if I make mistakes here and there. I am humble and willing to learn and grow as I train. I know that although she is a new missionary she is called to serve here exactly like I am, and that she has all the rights to receive revelation for this area, just as I do. We are a team, I am just here to help guide our companionship in the right way as a trainer. I know that as I do make mistakes, if I strive to be exactly obedient and work diligently Heavenly Father will see the desire of my heart and help me. I know he will. I have felt it already. He is so loving.

Something awesome and new is that we are now full time biking sisters! We have no car- at all. Which personally I love although I have never felt so exhausted. I just fall into bed every night. It is hard work, more than I thought to bike everywhere. On bikes thought, we get to be seen so much more in the community and we have many more opportunities to find the prepared people to teach. That is a goal of mine this transfer, to triple the amount of people who are being taught. Biking everywhere we go will help us achieve this goal, as well as working more closely with the members. It is still pretty hot here in Mountain House so biking in the day is pretty brutal (and sweaty...) but it should be cooling down somewhat in the coming weeks is what I hear. We are all hoping for rain to come too and help the awful drought that is happening here in California. Biking in the rain will be tough but I can cross that bridge when I get there. 

Our general daily routine is as follows. We get up early and do our exercise everyday but sundays. We get up at 5:50 AM on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays. We get up so early because we are apart of a workout group that meets in the park down the street. On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday we do running and wake up at 6 or latest 6:29 AM depending on how we feel. We then do personal scripture study from 8-9, companion scripture study from 9-10, I go through the new missionary training program with hermana arevalo from 10-11, then we do 30 minutes of spanish language study (which I am so so so excited to be able to do this transfer!!!!!!) and usually have lunch till 12. After that, we go out and start working. Some days we begin with service, and some days we just start visiting, meeting, and teaching people right away. We return at 9 if we do not have an appointment and 930 if we do. We plan for the next day then are in bed by 10:30pm. That is a general lay out of how my days go here. 

We are already teaching more people than we did last transfer, it is such a blessing. We have been working with a man for about 2 months now, Michael, and he finally committed to following the Savior and will be baptized. We are planning on October 24 and I could not be happier for him and his family. They will be so blessed. We are teaching about 10 other people right now and we are praying that each of them will progress as we teach them this week. I am so so so excited for this coming week, all the new lessons we will teach and also general conference! I am so excited to hear what our living prophet and his apostles on the earth today will say to us! 

I love you all and I am so happy to be where I am. I know that Jesus Christ is with me helping me, especially in the moments when I feel like I am just too exhausted or that I am not enough. With Christ all things really are possible, we just need to believe that- truly believe it. I try to everyday. We all should.

all my love,
sister neeley xoxo

Pictures from Sept. 21 and Sept. 28 Emails :)

Transfer Call!

September 21, 2015

Hello everyone I love!

This last week has been just amazing. I feel like I have been going full force all week and it feels great. There are so many good things happening here. I am excited to hear about Dad and Olivia's new calling for the family history center together. That will be so fun to learn. I am sorry the Alex lost his football game but I am sure he didn't make it easy for them! Amber sounds like she is having so much fun with her special Olympic sports, tell her to keep up the work! 

So last Monday night I was called by President Palmer to come speak in a youth stake mission fireside the next day all the way in oakdale (like hour and a half away from our area). I spoke with his wife Sister Palmer and she asked me questions about being a sister missionary and I was able to answer and bear my testimony. It was a really really special experience to me. I never realized just how much all the kids look up to missionaries as a whole for an example. I got to know them a little better during a break out session after we spoke and they are all so great. The youth of the church gets stronger and stronger I swear. They know where they came from, they know who they are, and the potential they have as each of them embrace the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Afterwards President Palmer and Sister Palmer took my companion and I as well as one other set of Elders who spoke, out for ice cream. It is always so fun to spend time President and Sister Palmer, they have this way of making you feel so special and good about yourself. They truly know what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. I am blessed to be able to work with them so much my first transfer. 

This week Sister TuaTonga and I meet so many people and a family who are interested in hearing more about Jesus Christ and the restored Gospel. As I met each person and got to know their story and struggle I just was so happy because I know that the Gospel can help them and give them so much peace. I look forward to meeting with and serving them this week... with my new companion!

So yes, I got my transfer call. I am staying in Mountain House to train a new missionary from the MTC! I feel so much excitement and humility about this opportunity. I will not pretend like I know everything- because I really do not. But I will work hard to find the answers in Preach My Gospel and in the missionary handbook. The modesto mission is simple, it does not have an extra set of rules, if it is found in preach my gospel or the missionary handbook then it is a rule and expected- if it is not than it is not expected. I will be obedient and work hard to be lead by the spirit. I am so excited for this growing opportunity. I will meet my new companion tomorrow at the mission office. I have been fasting and praying for her for the last two weeks and I love her already. This will be a hard thing to do, but I am trusting in the plan Heavenly Father has for me. 

I am so thankful for all the prayers. Prayer is real, and it can be easy to get into the habit of just saying words but we should all try to take a step back every once in awhile and reflect on our personal relationship with God. When we pray and ask for help and protection, He will send down angels to bear us up and strengthen us. As we have faith we will be able to accept that divine help. It is real and true and I have felt it. When I have tasks that I can not do alone, or a hard time I can not get past just myself, I feel Heavenly Father's hand in my life making all things possible for me. He will help us as much as we let him. 

I love you all so much and hope this next week is great for everyone. You are in my prayers.
All my love,
Sister Neeley
Pictures from September 14, 2015 :)

Sister Palmer and I

End of the First Transfer

September 14, 2015

Hello! Thank you for all the letters and love, keep them coming, they really make my day. It is so fun to get a little something in the mail and it keeps me going!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JOANNA ALEX AND AMBER! I am so sad I missed your birthday. Sunday the 13th was hard for me a little. I kept thinking of you all and how much you mean to me. It did not help that sunday lessons were all about families. I admit it made me a little homesick. But I have cards coming to you all and know that I thought about you and I send my love to all three of you. I know as I serve my mission that Heavenly Father will take extra good care of everyone I love and have to be away from.

I am nearing the end of my first transfer and big changes are ahead for me. Usually I would be trained for 6 more weeks as a new missionary but at an all sister conference we learned that each of us will be trainers next transfer...aka in one week. So I will be a 6 week old missionary training a brand new missionary from the MTC! We have more sisters coming into the mission than we have sisters here already so there will be lots of trios and training going on. I am not afraid at all. I feel so excited to train. Ever since I found out I have a new sense of motivation and focus to work hard and learn all I can this next week. I am not sure where I will train but I know I am. I am starting to see bits and pieces of God's plan for me. I was really shocked and overwhelmed when my mission call came and I had to report so soon, but I know part of the reason that it had to be that way is so I can train this new sister coming in. Heavenly Father has a special plan for all of us and knows us all individually. What I thought was unfair at first now is making sense. We need to have faith trust in Heavenly Father. He loves us more than we can ever understand and I need to have more trust that He is caring for me.

I had another exchange this week with Hermana Porter again. It was so fun to do some spanish work with her. We got to talk with a lot of different people. I love practicing my spanish and bearing my simple testimony. Kind of a crazy story is that we went in to visit this kid named Kevin. His house looked so creepy as we drove up. In front was a huge cactus garden. His grandama told us to be careful walking up because one of the cacti poked her and her arm went numb for two weeks...a great start to the visit as you can see. As we entered her living room, it was FILLED with shelves of small dolls and trinkets. We began teaching Kevin and we learned he had a huge pet snake. A 6ft boa constricter. We obviously asked where he kept it and he said he lets it hang around wherever and it was somewhere in the room...he had lost track of it!!!!!! I think I cried haha. I felt so uneasy and afraid the whole lesson. Luckily the member with us helped us out a lot because it was all about priesthood blessings. Kevin is sick so he then got a blessing before we all left. I couldnt keep my eyes closed because I was afraid of the snake! We never saw it but heard it as we went out. So creepy.. but Kevin is nice. 

My companion Sister Tuatonga is polynesian and taught a luau dance to the ward girls and I. The luau was on Saturday and it was authentic food and entertainment from a lot of different polynesian cultures. It was so fun! I learned a lot. We both wore lava lavas over our skirts and a flower in our hair. Our President's wife Sister Palmer came with a new senior couple in the mission and took our picture and sent it to mom so that was fun. It was a great activity. It was sad too though because our investigators never showed up and just before the luau we had extended the invitation to be baptized and the man felt he didn't know just yet so we came with low spirits but slowly became happy as we participated in the luau.

I am working really hard to be the best missionary I can and serve all around me. At the conference I went to where I found out that I would be training I loved how President told us to have a "day of decision". He wanted us to decide today to be exactly obedient and trust the Lord. I decided that day to trust Heavenly Father and be obedient fully, one hundred percent, no exceptions. It is funny how obedience gives me more peace instead of stress, I always imagined that being exactly obedient as a really stressful thing but now I see that it does the opposite. I know the next changes that are coming will not be easy but I have faith it is all part of the plan. We should all try a little harder to have more faith in the plan that Heavenly Father has for each of us. He loves us and He will take special care of us as we try to have faith. I love you all!!

All my love xoxo,
Sister Neeley
(sister Emoney for alex and olivia)