Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Tender Mercies can equal free food! :)

Hey!
 
So this week's letter will be a bit short (aka medium length because I write so much). Today President Palmer and Sister Palmer took the four sister training leaders (two English, two Spanish) and the two assistants to Big Trees this morning. He felt like we were all dealing with some weighing things and wanted to show how much he appreciated us. It was so amazing. I went before, but it was with a huge crowd of rowdy elders so it was not as good. This time it was quiet and peaceful, and as we walked the trails between the giant redwoods we read out this information booklet. It was pretty cold, at the end it started to even snow, but we had so much fun. I will send pictures next week. It was a really special trip. He took us all out to lunch after. It was cool to get to know everyone on a more individual basis. I really loved to be out in the mountains again and to be in such a scenic setting.

This week rushed by. We went on two exchanges and a split. I left for both exchanges so I feel like I was barely in my area at all. I was up in Ione with sister smith, which was so fun. It is such a small little place way out in the hills. Sister smith is such a cute, fun sister. It was a great exchange. The mission joke for Ione is that it has a population of 7,000....4,000 of them are state prisoners. Yes. There is a state prison there. The prison population out numbers the town population haha. It is a good place though. Really small town. I also worked in Mountain House with sister lynn this week! My old area! It was awesome to be there again. I love that ward so much. I did a lot of growing there. We also did a split in Stockton which is always an interesting time. There really are so many people there who are willing to talk to us. I hope I serve there so bad. I would love to be in the city. 

We love our new ward mission leader!! We have an action plan of how to work with our ward better and we are so excited. I just know as we get them on board, more miracles will start happening here. We really have some meaningful relationships forming here with the ward. It took longer than I anticipated, but I know it was all apart of God's timing. Easter sunday we were taken good care of. We had a big dinner at the Woods and they gave us Easter baskets and everything. It was a wonderful Sunday. The General Women's broadcast was on Saturday and it was SO GOOD. If you missed it you should watch it online. It was so uplifting to hear. Lindsey came and she loved it as well. She is so excited for her first general conference this coming weekend- as am I!

One cool thing that happened this week was that we didn't have a dinner one night so we went out to this really good Thai place. As we went to pay the bill, the waiter told us our bill was taken care of. We looked around for someone we knew, but there was no one. The waiter pointed to a man in the corner. We went over to talk to him and he said "I don't know if you remember me but you stopped and talked to me on the street an couple weeks ago, and I really appreciate what you are doing. I hope you enjoy your stay in Ripon." We were both in awe and thanked him so much. We remembered talking to him. He was not interested in our message, he didn't even believe in God he told us, but he felt something I guess. He is a good man, and he showed us Christ like love that day. It made us feel really good. That has never happened to me before. Most days we feel unwanted or unnoticed, but our light shines farther than we know.

So this week I found a really beautiful scripture in 2 Corinthians. It says,"
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new .  ". I love the concept of being new. I love that because Christ lives I can be made new. He died for me, but more importantly He lives for me and because He lives I know that I can overcome all things.
 
All my love
Sister Neeley
 

Monday, March 28, 2016

1 of about 72 Serving others this week- (SIDENOTE ORCAS ARE BAN FROM SEAWORLD NOW, AKA HAPPIEST DAY OF MY LIFE: JUSTICE FOR THE KILLER WHALES!)

March 21, 2016

Heyyyyy!

Before I get into my week....Anna notified me that Seaworld is not breeding orca whales anymore!!!!! This will be their last generation of whales there!!! No more killer whales at seaworld!! She said they posted a video on Facebook that read "We heard you...we listened...no more breeding orcas...no more theatrical shows...no more tricks...learn more (click here)". Okay so I have written research papers on orca cruelty in SeaWorld, and have signed countless petitions to ban orcas in Seaworld and now they finally are! I may or may not have cried tears of happiness while sister winn videoed me dying of laughter. Anyways, that news made me SO HAPPY. JUSTICE FOR WHALES!

Anyways... So this week in mission life. We had some sweet miracles happen. We street contacted this lady the other week and she finally called us to help her out with some service. She has a farm and some land with horses and said she could use some help. She wasn't super proactive about having us teach her, but as we serve and get to know her the spirit will be able to prepare her- if not for us to teach her, for someone else to. She is so sweet, and genuine. We got to help her clean up her barn and brush out some horses. It was the coolest thing, and so relaxing to do. I love being around the horses. We learned a lot about how to brush and take care of the horses, and got to know her as we did it. I am excited to go back and work with her more. Not many people take us up on our offer to serve, so this was a true answer to our prayer. We also had another cool service opportunity this week that lead to teaching. A member introduced us to her neighbor, who also took us up on our offer to serve. As we deep cleaned her house with her, we taught her the restoration of the Gospel- lead by her own sincere questions she had. We got to know her really, really well. She is such an interesting person, and really at a cross roads with religion and with her life. She told us we were a direct answer to her prayers. The spirit was really strong as we talked, and we are excited to go back, and hopefully start teaching her more formally, as well as while we serve her. I know that if we take the time to serve and love people as Jesus Christ did, that they will feel not only our love for them, but Christ's love for them as well. And they will be touched by the spirit. 

Lindsey, our less active we are really working hard with and totally love, had a blessing from her home teachers this week. We all met together and it was such a powerful experience. Lindsey said she felt the spirit so strong as soon as he laid his hands on her head. She is such a baller, we love her. She loves singing in the ward choir too. It is so amazing every time I talk to her to see the way that the Gospel has changed her life and her heart. She has a beautiful testimony and a sincere desire to learn. Also at church, out of the blue Silver's (a previous investigator of ours) wife came who is a inactive member! With her sister too and both their kids. It was so good to see them there. They stayed the whole time, and we planned to meet with her soon. It is so amazing how the Lord works when we trust Him. When Silver was coming to church, his wife wasn't wanting to, but today she came. I think if she starts coming, Silver may be interested in being taught again. It was very exciting to have happen. Heavenly Father truly is answering my prayers, and making sure I know He didn't forget about me here in Ripon working. He is so aware of me and I need to trust in Him more always.

We went on an exchange and a couple other visits with our sisters this week and it went really well. I love being able to serve them. I love them all so much. They have all become really good friends of mine. That was about my week. Sister Winn and I are just doing the best we can to follow Christ and serve Him, and having fun while we do it. We love working with each other and everyday is an adventure when we are together. 

Last thing, if you haven't seen the Easter video you should go on lds.org and watch it! It is so good, and only like two minutes. Every time I watch it I get something new out of it. We are trying really hard to share it with everyone we meet. I love the theme in it of finding new life in Jesus Christ. The whole concept of a new life is so powerful. I have felt in my own life at times, stuck in my weaknesses, faults, mistakes, and shortcomings. The hope that I can overcome that, and that I don't have to be stuck that person comes to me through Jesus Christ. I know that because of Him I can be what I can't be alone, and I can do what I can't do alone. I can have a new life through Him. We have had so many powerful experiences sharing this video with others. We meet a lot of people who are feeling hopeless, and unhappy in the life they have. They think, this is what it will always be like for me, and it is just not true. And we get to testify to them of that along with this video. I know that through Jesus Christ we can find new life, and we can be the person we want to be.

I love you and I pray for you!
all my love,
Sister Neeley

Pictures from March 14, 2016

With Sister Allen






My hood days back in Mountain House


 My decorated BOM, Planner and missionary handbook - I'm posh

Elder Moreno went home - He helped me with my Spanish all the time

Monday Sports (our team was called daughters of promise)

My old zone back in Manteca

Sister Winn and I  - we are ballers



Life in Ripon

Always be a little kinder than is necessary

March 7, 2016

Hey!!

Transfer calls were last night and I am staying in Ripon with Sister Winn and we will both remain sister training leaders over all the english sisters in the mission. I am so happy- extremely happy!! Sister Winn is my first companion I will have longer than a transfer. We are just the best of friends so we love working together. We made some really challenging, but great goals for ourselves this transfer. We are ready to work hard and pray harder for them. We learned by mistake this past transfer on some things, like balancing our stewardship and our area at times, but we learned a ton together and are ready to start our ripon transfer 2.0! I took time on Sunday to kneel down and really pray for what Heavenly Father needs me to do, in order to make my goals this transfer and be the missionary he needs me to. There have not been many times when an answer to my question in a prayer has been immediately answered, but this time it was powerful and right away. I just felt this overwhelming desire to have an increase of Christ like love, for everyone- for my sisters in my stewardship, my area, my companion, and even for myself. I want to go above and beyond what is required. I want to as Jesus explains on his sermon on the mount, walk two miles with them when I was only asked to walk one. I am praying to see everyone and myself as Christ sees them. I know that as I do that, every aspect of my mission will be transformed. If I saw, treated, and talked to (and about) every single person as Christ would if He was here...I can't imagine the change that would happen. He knows each of us all perfectly and loves us perfectly as well- no judgement, no limitations, no exceptions. A quote from a favorite book of mine called wonder comes to my mind, "always be a little nicer than is necessary." That is how Christ lived, and I am re-dedicating myself to be more like that. 

This week was a very crazy week ( I think I say that every week haha...?). We were pulled out of our area more than usual, dealing with some issues with our sisters and some other missionaries, as well as some extra meetings. We had mission leadership council and then zone training. We did a training in zone training for everyone, and I wasn't even nervous. I am getting very comfortable leading and talking in front of people. We set appointments with the people we are teaching for the times when we would be in our area, but it seems like more often than not they didn't answer for us at the time we set. So that was stressful, but we still made some progress even if it was small. We went to activity days with Destiny again, our investigator Jenn's daughter which was super good. We did have one really really amazing lesson though this week that sticks out in my mind. We are teaching this inactive sister Lindsey (and kind of her kids and boyfriend). She has not been active pretty much all her life, and is just now wanting to learn and be closer to Christ. She is just so so sincere. She is feels the spirit so strongly. Just after two weeks of meeting with us, things are really looking up for us. We taught her the plan of salvation this week and as we talked about Jesus Christ and His atonement she was just brought to tears. She told us "if this really is true. and Christ really did do that for me, there is just so much hope in my world. and so much peace." The spirit was so very strong. She then prayed and asked if it was true and the spirit bore witness to her heart. It was so amazing. We are praying her boyfriend will listen more, and make those changes along with her. She is just so sweet and she is the definition of having real intent. We meet with here again tonight, and I can not wait. This coming sunday she is having her son blessed in church, and her whole family is coming for it. Hopefully she will attend our relief society activity thursday as well. I am really looking forward to tonight!

This week has been really really rainy. Good for California...bad for missionaries on bikes. We caught a bit of a cold and sore throat, but nothing bad. A ward member gave us like a billion oranges off her orange tree so I am sure we will bounce back fully in no time. The ward is starting to really warm up to us I think. I think we are getting a ward mission leader soon too which I know will do leaps and bounds for our relationship with the ward. Tonight we have dinner with the stake councilman over missionary work to talk about it all. Our one ward missionary though, sister jeppson, is just the sweetest thing. She takes care of us so well. She is one of those people who make you feel so special, and smart and loved every moment you are with her. She is always willing to come teach and be with us when we need her. She was baptized and went on a mission a year later to France. She is just a powerhouse! We love her! 

That is just one thing that I really love about my mission, is that I am getting to know and love so many people with so many different backgrounds, and it always seems like as a missionary I connect so quickly and so deeply to people I do not even know very well. We meet people for the first, or second time and they just open up to us and feel comfortable telling us these sad sad stories from their life. Like deep stuff. They can feel Christ's love for them through us. They seem to trust us in a very short time. It is such a gift from the spirit. That is why when they do not want to learn more about our message of Christ it hurts, because we love them and want them to feel peace and love in their life. Thinking about this lead me to my scripture of the week. It is found in Jacob chapter 2 verse 8. It says, "...they have come to hear the pleasing word of God, yea, the word which healeth the wounded soul." I am so blessed to be helping people find healing for their soul. Everyone needs healing, and it comes through the message of Christ and His restored gospel that we share. And true with most the people I have met, that healing does not happen in the time frame that I would have hoped for them it would, but I am still able to show them Christ like love as much as I can. For some of these people they have never even felt that before. I know that healing and true peace comes from God and His plan for us. It is the most amazing experience that as I help others, I am helping myself as well. I am definitely not perfect. My soul really could use some healing too. As I work to bring others the pleasing word of God, I am bringing it to me at the same time. I love my mission, the good and the hard parts. I am really figuring out who I want to be, and who God needs me to be.

I love you! I am praying for you all!

all my love,
sister neeley

All in God's timing

February 28, 2016

Hey!

So this week has been a pretty busy week. Wow am I so blessed  though that sister winn is my companion. We just power through it all. We really get along and connect. I don't think I have ever spent more time praying down on my knees. So many things are just out of my control and all I can do is just pray and trust that He loves me and hears me, and most importantly (and most difficult) that He will do what is best for me in His timing. Ever since I have started praying out loud at the edge of my tub, I have felt so much more love and power in my life. I was studying the definition of prayer in the Bible dictionary and it speaks about how God is waiting to give us blessings that we just need to ask Him for. He loves us and our agency so much that He even needs us to ask Him for blessings. There has been such a power in my life as I have learned to view prayer as a conversation with my loving, understanding, and concerned Father in Heaven, rather than this formal statement of words with not much emotion behind it. 

So this week we had to have some emergency visits with our sisters (end of the transfer melt down is a real thing haha), which threw off our week a bit to be honest as far as the work in our area went. The people we were so blessed to meet last week couldn't meet with us for the most part this week. Which at first just made me feel so discouraged and down after feeling so much excitement, but I realize looking back it was all for a reason. I am praying so hard for them all, and I look forward to continuing our teaching with them this week. A part of me is still concerned about this, but I am deciding to lead with my faith and ask Christ for strength with all the rest. This coming week will be an act of faith. We have to do some extra exchanges with a a few companionships- which cool story: earlier on in the transfer we felt really impressed to stay ahead on our exchanges so that this last week of the transfer was more flexible. We had no idea why, but as we are here in the last week we now know why the spirit directed us in that way. It amazes me how loving Heavenly Father is and how much He is with me. So this week though we also need to focus on these people who just really really need Christ's gospel in their life. But- I know that as I do my best to follow the spirit and be obedient that God will provide for us.

P.S sister allen goes home this next week and I am so so sad about it! She and I have become so close. It is so sad to see her go. Where is all the time going!?

So this week has been troubling somewhat as well because in our area we have contacted into a lot of very anti-mormon people. There is a ton of churches in Ripon with a lot of really amazing people with strong beliefs which is awesome, but apparently one of them is giving out note cards with arguments against our religion so that people can come find us and basically chew us out. I have never experienced this in my life before. I mean, there is a lot of people who believe things differently than me that I know and it is great they have their own path that gives them peace for then in their lives, but I have never had it so up in face. In those moments I have felt just dark inside, and it hurts that I do not even have the opportunity to bear my own testimony in some cases. It is very hard when something so precious, and dear to me- that has changed my life for the better and gave me peace- is so torn apart and misunderstood. All I can is try and say my testimony and head another way. It has been hard, but I feel my Savior even closer in those moments. It has been a learning and growing experience for me.

Something that I have studied this week is Moses 6, the story of Enoch. He is just this kid who is weak and hated, but through Christ he is made strong and does miracles. Moses 6:34 is my favorite verse from the chapter I am focusing on this week. I feel weak at times, but when I do I remember something Steven my brother actually shared with me about this story. That when I doubt myself, I am really doubting Christ's ability to work through me. I am really going to think about that this week. I know that Christ suffered for my own personal weaknesses and mistakes and He overcame them because He loves me. Because He overcame them, I too can overcome them as I seek Him in all that I do. I feel so much peace and happiness as I am serving as a missionary. Hard times come, but I just still feel peace. It makes me so happy to be here serving. I miss you and love you all. You are in my prayers.

all my love,
Sister Neeley

Best week ever- not even being dramatic

February 22, 2016

Omg Hey!!!

This week has been literally the best week of my mission- not even being dramatic! Which as we all know, I never am...I like don't even know where to start but hopefully I can make sense typing through all my excitement. So I guess the summer weather I was raving about last week died down a little. I jinxed us apparently.  It has been colder this week, but oh my heart the almond blossoms are everywhere and they are so pretty. I love biking by the orchards, and in the morning for exercise sister winn and I re routed our usual run to go through the orchards and it is the coolest thing running through this like canopy of almond blossoms. The prettiest is when we are going through them and the wind picks up and all the white pedals that were on the ground get picked up and tossed around us. I feel like I am in a movie or something. It is way cool. Side note- can I just say again what a tender mercy it is to have a companion that loves to run like me! Seriously, it is a rarity to find in the modesto sisters. Anyways so that just like sets my mood for the rest of the email. 

This past week sister winn and I have gained this new confidence and urgency to our message, and our teaching is totally being transformed by it. As well as our faith. We had three exchanges this week- in three different zones- plus splitz, yet we have seen miracle after miracle in our own area. One day we were coming in from our morning run, and we pasted by our neighbor and started up a conversation with her. We got talking and it we all just clicked. She is a young mom and they are new here, and her daughter destiny was having trouble making friends, so we of course invited her to attend activity days which is a like a youth group for girls ages 8-12. She was so excited to have her go. This opened up the opportunity for Jenn to feel comfortable asking us questions that she had. We starting teaching her this week and she said for the first time in her life she has felt hope and desired to be baptized. As we sat and listened to her open up and tell us about all these awful experiences in life that she has been enduring I could not help but cry for her. I admit as I sat on her couch hearing this all, I felt this heavy burden of love and concern come over me for her, and how much she needed the gospel. I felt so inadequet in that moment. I didn't have the words our message deserved, but I felt the spirit also in that same moment bring me peace. I know that Christ is lifting me up and strengthening me so that I can help her find hope in Christ. The spirit will direct my thoughts and words, I can trust that. I was right, I do not have the words His gospel deserves, but I do have the spirit with me, and the spirit will testify the truth of all things. 

So we had not been able to contact this member's referral for a couple weeks, but this week we were and it was so awesome. We got there and introduced ourselves and from there he went off about how much he was drawn to the church and all these different friends in the army that were Mormon that he really loved. He has been to church once and he said it was the most amazing experience for him. His daughter has been asking him why they don't go to a church and he really wants to learn more about the Gospel. We taught about the Book of Mormon, gave him some things to read and set another appointment with their family. It was such a miracle! Then that next day we working in the area and looking at the address of our next person to go see and it just didn't feel right to me. I looked at all the plans for the day and they all just felt wrong. I was so confused and sister pisa- my companion for the day- had to use the bathroom haha. We felt like we needed to go walk around and see if we could talk with anyone... and if she could use their bathroom. Then we met Alice. It was this nice older lady who was doing some yard work and gladly let us in to use her bathroom. We got talking and told her we were missionaries for the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. She immediately got very upset and told us she could not talk to us. I was startled by the drastic switch of conversion and afraid. All I wanted to do was leave that house, but I felt like I needed to ask her if I could answer any concerns that she might have with our church. She then spoke about how at her church they showed them videos about what we do in our church (which were all not true things at all and very hurtful and hard for me to hear). She could tell I was hurt and allowed me to speak. I could do nothing else but bear my testimony and invited her to meet again and discover what we really are about. We had a great discussion about Jesus Christ and found a lot of common ground. Her heart was softened and we are meeting with her tomorrow to keep teaching her. That was truly a miracle.

So we are like on cloud nine. We have never in this area found so many new people to teach in one week. Then on Sunday we are out biking between appointments and visits and our appointment with a family falls through. Our first plan of action was to go to to our back ups, but I got that same empty feeling of it not being right. So did sister winn. I was reminded of my previous experience that week and knew someone needed us. We prayed and I started thinking about a lady sister wilkins and I had met 2 months ago on the street. We decided on faith that her house was where we needed to go. We knocked on her door and Jennieve and her son Avaro came out onto the porch. We started talking with them, and asked if they wanted to hear about our message. -Pause, sister winn and I this week had a goal to start teaching when we find people, then set up an appointment after rather than just ask when is another good time to come back. okay, un pause-They said yes and so we just started teaching them the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We taught them the whole lesson and invited them to read and pray about the Book of Mormon and they accepted. Right then and there. We meet with them this week as well. It was such a miracle! This whole week has been an an answer to our prayers. I think what made a difference was that we both made changes to feel the Savior more close and as a result He was able to lead and guide us more fully. 

This week I have gained a testimony of Matthew 17:20 " 
And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief : for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain , Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. 

I may not have faith like some of the prophets I read about in the scriptures  but I do have it and because I do nothing is impossible to me. I love this elder Holland quote from his talk Lord I Believe, "the size of your faith or the degree of your knowledge is not the issue, it is the integrity you demonstrate toward the faith you do have and truth you already know." I am learning how to really stand firm in the faith I do have, and as I do Christ is making up all the difference. This week has changed my heart. Not because we have more people to teach than before, but because I know that God is aware of me and when I ask for Him to strengthen me He will. Becuase He loves me. And He loves us all and He will always be there for us. I am really learning why I am here on my mission, to help others find Christ through His restored Gospel, and I need to always have that urgency and confidence in my teaching.Thank you for the prayers.

all my love, 
Sister Neeley

Pictures from February 22, 2016








Summer in February

February 15, 2016

Hey!!

This week in Ripon has been absolutely beautiful weather. It has been in the 70's and sunny. It feels like summer to me. I love it. At night it gets chilly quick, especially riding bikes, but the days are just beautiful. Perfect weather to be out in and talking to people. Although I realize that this perfect weather is happening in February....and that when it actually does get to the summer months it will be incredibly hot...but I will cross that bridge when I get there, and just enjoy the good weather now. So something cool is that Ripon is surrounded by almond orchards (or as the local people pronounce it "ammon" orchards..no idea why they just do), and they are blossoming right now. All the trees are starting to have these beautiful little white flowers on them. It looks so so cool to see just rows and rows of these flowering trees. To go along with the bloom though, there is also a huge increase of bees here. The bees pollinate the flowers, the flowers fall off, then the almonds start growing. Bees are everywhere. I was already stung once so that is not fun, but the trees are so cool. Also, Ripon every year has an almond blossom festival here in town to celebrate the flowers and the start of the almond growing season. It will happen the last week of February. Lots of people come in for it apparently so I am very excited to be here for it. They do a parade and everything. So that has been really fun to see happen.

As sister winn and I have been working in Ripon and with the sisters in our mission (which has been a blast because sister winn is the bomb), we have been seeing miracles. To start the week, I was like all fired up to go carry out all our plans for the week, and teach all the people we had planned for. I was so ready to just go out and make things happen and have tons of faith. The beginning of the week was a little rough though. Some people who gave us return appointments never answered or showed, and then we had an exchange with some sisters that really burdened me down. I felt the fire I had was kind of being stepped on haha. Sister winn and I were driving back from meeting with some sisters one night, feeling pretty at a lost of how to best help them, and we decided to listen to this talk called Feed My Sheep by Elder Holland. It was SO powerful. Like one of the most powerful I have ever heard (although I am slightly biased to Elder Holland and his talks). We both felt this like huge desire and need to change and be closer to the Savior. To love Him more fully and deeply. I felt the spirit impress upon me that I needed to have more sincere prayers. Okay so. I have a hard time praying at night sometimes in my head. It is late and I am at the edge of my comfy bed, and my mind just wanders. Sometimes I will be like in the middle of praying for my sisters or area or family and next thing I know I am thinking about something pointless like what I will wear the next day or how I like my shampoo I am using. I decided to fix this by leaving some more time before bed to go into the bathroom, turn the fan on, and kneel at the edge of our tub to speak my prayers out loud. It has really changed me. I feel more fully like I am talking to my actual Father in Heaven. I am able to get out what is really on my heart and on my mind. I get much more emotion into it. I have felt a real power come into my life, and since I started doing that my week starting to get exponentially better. For instance we found a inactive part member family to teach, and our investigator Silver who has been ignoring us showed up to church out of the blue sunday! It was so cool to see him there with his two boys! We talked like we never skipped a beat and we are coming over tonight for another lesson. I feel much more at peace with the work I am doing as I share with the Savior my burdens more fully through prayer. I feel him helping me and strengthening me. 

We went on two exchanges this week, up in oakdale and then in sycamore. We also did day splitz in Ione which was really helpful to these sisters area. We saw a ton of miracles in their area just in the few hours we were there. In sycamore I got to go work with this new sister missionary and it was such a cool exchange. New missionaries have this awesome awesome fire in them and humility that is so inspiring to me. It reminds me to keep that spirit up in myself. I loved working with her and learning a ton as well. It is always fun to get to see another area as well and meet even more new people. This next week we have three exchanges and two day splitz so it will be busy, but I love helping out and learning from all the sisters. Kind of bummed to be away from sister winn so much because we really love working with one another, but the more I get to know the other sisters, the more I love them!!

This week I am really going to study in Mark from the new testament, along with one of the other best talks in the world by Elder Holland,(https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/04/lord-i-believe?lang=eng). Mark 9:23-24 is what I am focusing on this week: 
23 Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.
24 And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.
The man says I believe, before he acknowledges his weakness of unbelief. I need to do the same. I too can lead with my faith and then ask for help with my weakness from Christ. It is just a really powerful story and the talk by Elder Holland really makes it even more powerful. I am excited to really dive into it this week. I love you all and hope you have a great week!

all my love,
Sister Neeley

Pictures from February 15, 2016

Sister Winn and I! :) 



We didn't get anything we planned done, but got done what God needed us to

February 8, 2016

Heyyy!

The work here in Ripon is hard lately. Our investigators are not really progressing as we had hoped they would. It is really hard to accept. I just want them to realize the blessings of coming unto Christ and living His gospel, it is hard when they do not want that for themselves. Actually, it is hardest when they only 50% want that for themselves. They feel the spirit, they want to know Christ more, but they don't do what it takes to get there. It is spiritually exhausting. I am constantly thinking of talks, scriptures, and lesson plans to best help those I am teaching- in the morning on our runs, in the shower, in the car, just whenever I have free time my mind wanders to those I am teaching and I analyze and analyze again and again what I can be doing to help them better. Okay. So, I probably worry about it to a unhealthy point haha but it is hard when we are not teaching a ton of people so I just put all my love and hope into those that I am teaching. This week though Sister Winn and I are praying and fasting to really find more people who are ready to receive the gospel in their life. One way we are already finding some potential success is by asking everyone we meet all the time if they know anyone who would be interested in hearing our message of Christ's gospel. We are doing our part to be obedient as we can, and work hard so I know that the Lord will bless us. Pause real quick- let me tell about Sister Winn. She is such an amazing companion. I honestly love all my companions I have had, but Sister Winn is one I will just be friends with always. We just connect the way we think and the way we work. We have been companions for like 2 weeks and we both feel like we have been friends since forever. The weeks have been just flying by. This week especially. We had so many crazy things happen to us, many of which pulled us out of our area to be with our sisters. We finally have met and worked briefly (like on a tiny afternoon split or something) with all 18 of our sisters which was a goal for us. We now have a better idea of where we need to be focusing and with whom we need to be giving extra love or help. This being said, we both feel like this week we need to have a increased urgency and focus in our own area here in Ripon. This whole balancing act between our area and the responsibilities as sister training leaders is really hard. I never feel like I am doing either one 100% which is really hard for me to accept, but I know that God put us here for a reason and  gave us this assignment for a reason so I need to just trust Him more and stop having a panic attack about not working hard enough every ten seconds. God must be like shaking His head at me most days haha, I just need to trust His love and guidance more. He is so patient with me, and so loving.

Okay so a little insight into our crazy week. Hmm. Well we had zone training this past week and it was really powerful. I love my zone a ton. I have spent all 6 months of my mission here in the Manteca zone so I have a lot of really close friends here. Which all of them are in different districts than I am this transfer surprisingly. We added a new district this transfer and I was put in the small new one with some missionaries I have not really served super close with. I am really excited to get to know them though. Anyways, Sister Winn and I lead a council on mormon chapter 9 and with a focus of miracles and not doubting. I had a real problem with this chapter because it kept saying doubt not and I was like how can I not doubt?! I will never have perfect faith so how I can never doubt? I have realized though there is a difference between doubts and questions. I have a lot of questions- A LOT - about the gospel but I have a strong faith and hope that as I keep doing my best to follow the Savior in time I will get those answers. Doubts weigh me down, and questions encourage me to study and pray more. So now when I read "ask, doubting nothing" I know I can really do that. I know that I have faith in Jesus Christ and His restored gospel, so despite what questions arise I never doubt my Savior. I know He is there. And with that faith I have I can ask Him for all things. 

One split we went on that was particularly powerful this week was with the Houghson sisters. I was working with Sister Beteiti in waterford. She is a brand new missionary who is from a tiny island in the south pacific. She is still learning english so missionary work is very difficult for her. We were biking around and we could not find any of the houses she had planned for us. I could tell she was getting frustrated, and the language barrier was not helping. We paused to say a prayer and ask where we needed to be. Instantly we both felt peace and we decided to stop messing with the map and let the spirit just direct where we needed to be and we would spend our time street contacting. We met so many people that day who asked us to come back, it was a miracle. And although sister beteiti didn't feel comfortable starting conversations, once we were talking to people she would bear her testimony and it was just powerful. She has a very strong spirit and an amazing story of how she ended up coming on a mission. I am very excited to get to know her and work with her. After the day she told me she now knows that talking to people is not as hard as she thought. It was awesome to hear and the whole day was just the spiritual boost I needed. Side note that is less spiritual- I got 4 spanish referrals from waterford! Holla at yo girl!!! There is a ton of spanish speakers there and  I was able to practice my spanish with them then refer them to the spanish elders in the area. It was a lot of fun for me. Although the spanish conversations made sister beteiti a bit more confused hahaha- she is so adorable. 

We also started off our exchanges this week with the stockton sisters. We will have to do two exchanges a week to get them all done by the end of the transfers, and then plus other extra needed exchanges so we will be busy and travel around a bunch. It will be a blessing to work with so many sisters though. So this week was a week full of car troubles for the mission. One of them was our own car. We went in for a simple oil change and when we left the car went CRAZY. It was like shaking and not accelerating, and then smoke starting like pouring out of the exhaust pipe so we pulled over and walked back to the car shop to tell them what happened. Then long- longgggggg- story short we went back to meet a tow truck and then walked back to the shop to wait for someone to come rescue us. We were trapped up in Lodi all day long. So this is a situation that could have really been a frustrating day for us, but it was the exact opposite. It is hilarious to me how God works sometimes. We were put in the path of multiple people through out the day, a secretary at the shop, a woman and a man sitting by us in the waiting room, and the tow truck man. We were able to talk and get to know each of them. They all were going through something in their lives hard and we were able to uplift their spirits by sharing our testimonies of the gospel with them. Especially the tow truck man. He is going to start meeting with missionaries where he lives and it was a blessing to be able to guide him to that. I know God loves each of those people so much that he purposely put us in their path so that they could be uplifted and feel his love. We didn't get anything we planned to get done that day, but we got done what God needed us to, and that is why we are here. His love is so perfect and so individual for each of us, it amazes me. There were some other emergencies with sisters that pulled us from our area this week, one being a car crash that thankfully no one was hurt in, but in every instance I know it was directed by the spirit and I was able to minister to someone, hopefully in a similar way that Christ would have if Christ were here. Our motto is never be in a hurry to love someone. Christ never was. 

So I am doing well and Sister Winn is a bomb companion and I am learning so much about myself and who God wants me to be. I am loving being on my mission and I hope I can continue to be one with the savior in doing the will of the father. I love you all!

all my love,
Sister Neeley

This week was a blur, but...

February 4, 2016

Hey everyone I love!

So this week has literally been a blur but probably because if it was any other way I would died haha. I will try and gather my thoughts though. Sister Winn being my new companion is a tender mercy from heaven. We get along so well. She is 24 years old, graduated high school at 16 and has been modeling in New York ever since. She speaks english, italitan, and french. I have never met someone so spiritual in my life. She is currently writing the Prince of England who wanted to marry her, but she decided to serve the Lord instead. So that was actually an outrageous lie- but!! she is really cool still. She is 19 from Morgan, Utah and has been out on her mission 3 months. She is super into outdoors and sports which makes morning workout a dream come true to me. Literally...I have been dreaming of a solid morning run for months.She is so real about her struggles and doubts, but at the same time has so much faith to fill in those gaps she just hasn't got answers to yet. We are a lot a like. Sister Winn and I are like two pees in a pod, so despite the confusion and stress we had a ton of fun and felt the spirit together.

Sister Winn and I have been all over the mission this week. We found out that we are over all the english speaking sisters in the mission- 18 sisters, 6 different zones. The two other sister training leaders in the mission are over all the spanish sisters, so we each have a lot of ground to cover. For each zone we go to their leadership meetings to coordinate our efforts with the elders for helping the sisters that we share in stewardship. We went to six different zone leadership meetings, plus district meeting, plus a sister training leadership meeting this week. We also do not even know a fair amount of the sisters very well so we have been trying to go and visit them, take them out for lunch etc. to get to know them. We need them to know us and trust us so that they can feel comfortable talking to us about struggles they are having, either in companionships or in their area. We have already been needed this week to visit some of them so the week has just been really jammed pack. Despite that though, we have taught some really amazing lessons! Silver and his family are still searching for truth. The spirit is so strong in our lessons, I have a lot of hope for them. We also got to meet a couple other people this week which was just a blessing because our time working in Ripon was very small. We realized that as the transfer goes on and sisters will need us to come more and more, we will have to prayerfully ponder which leadership meetings to attend and really follow the spirit. I know that as we are are working with our sisters, that God will work in our area AND that when we are working in our area, that God will be working with our sisters even more. I am really holding true to that promise this transfer. President Palmer told us at a sister training leader meeting that he promises as we strive to be obedient and follow the spirit immediately, our area will be blessed. 

Something that I studied this week that was impactful was how Christ ministered. I spent a lot of time in the New Testament. I realized that Christ was never in a hurry to love people. He was always one hundred percent focused where ever he was. He saw the potential in people, instead of who they were in the past. Every time I will go to minister to a sister or in my area, I will ask myself how would Christ minister if he were here. And when I am talking about missionary or about anyone for that fact, how would Christ speak of this person if he were here. My goal this transfer is to focus on the spirit and let it lead me in all things. I was reading in the Book Of Mormon in Jacob chapter 3 verses 3-4, and it gave me a lot of peace this week as well. I will pray for inspiration and trust in God's love. I love the scriptures and I am so thankful for all of the peace they bring to my life. This next week will be a bit more busy believe it or not, but I trust that God will provide a way for us. Sister Winn and I are excited to grow this transfer in faith and in Christ like love.

I love you all,
Sister Neeley

Pictures from February 1st, 2016

Sister Wilkins and I


Sister Allen and I



Moving Strong into transfer #6

January 25, 2016

Hey!!

This week was so amazing! First, let me tell you the results of transfers! I am staying in Ripon as a sister training leader, and sister wilkins is being transferred to Ione. My new companion will be sister winn and I am so pumped! I have been on exchanges with her a couple times and she is a powerhouse sister. She has been out for two transfers (12 weeks), and she will be a sister training leader along with me. This will be her first time being sister training leader so I will help her understand what is expected. I can really relate to how she is feeling because I too was called as a sister training leader my third transfer. I feel some pressure to be that HUGE role to sister winn, that sister allen was for me my first transfer as a sister training leader, but I know that I am trusted for a reason and the Lord will qualify me. Some other things that make me slightly anxious is that I am now the oldest (as in longest out on the mission) sister training leader left. I really looked up to the other more experienced sister training leaders in the past, they were like spiritual giants for me. They counciled me and helped me feel comfortable in this calling, so I feel a bit nervous to not have them around. I have so much faith that this transfer will help me grow and that the Lord knows me better than I do, so I do not need to worry. These new sisters called are all wonderful and I am so so excited to work with them! Sister Winn and I are the only english sister training leaders so we are going to have the struggle of splitting area time and time with our sisters. When sister allen and I had this situation I learned a lot so that experience will help me as we move into this transfer. I know that I can do it, and I am excited to get to know sister winn better.

ALSO!! I talked with president plamer and I CAN GO TO THE BOLLA'S SEALING! It will be in the oakland temple. It will be in mid February. I can not explain how happy that makes me! They are such a awesome family and they have had road blocks, but to see them over come them all and now prepare to be sealed as an eternal family in the temple it just amazing. I am blessed to know them and be apart of that day with them. I do not have specifics on how I will be transported out and back into the mission just yet, but I am incredibly happy I am able to go. I know the temple is such a scared place and I know that through the temple we can be sealed with our families forever. The peace, hope, and strength that gives me in my own family is never ending. I could not be happier for the Bolla's and that I can be there to support them. It will be my first sealing I have ever been to, and it is so special that it is the Bolla's. I just love them! 

So last monday we went on a zone trip up to Big Trees. It was about a hour and a half trip. A bunch of the YSA members drove us all up, and it was fun to get to know them. I think it would be fun but weird to serve in the YSA ward. Big tress was so beautiful! The redwood trees were huge! Like the biggest trees I have ever seen. We all spent a couple hours hiking around and looking at the forest, it was a lot of fun. It was snowing up there too!! Which I was not prepared for haha. I did not bring a jacket or anything. I was able to borrow a hoodie from another missionary so excuse the over sized neon orange hoodie in some of the pictures- I was freezing!!!! It was cool though to have snowball fights and see the snow. Down in the valley where I serve we don't get snow even though it can get a bit chilly. Anyways, big trees was super beautiful and it was really magical to get to hike around for awhile there. We rode up with the coolest YSA members, this girl who served in Argentina and then this hermano from the monte vista ward (the spanish ward around here). He was so cool, he totally almost convinced me to be vegan haha. That would be hard on the mission to do but a good idea maybe when I am home. It was a fun day. 

The rest of the week was pretty rainy, but the rain is making the valley look much more alive (although compared to back east still pretty dead). We biked around in it a lot this week which was fun sometimes and not so fun other times. We have a highway that separates our area down the middle and to get over it there is this huge over pass we have to bike up. It can be awful some days, but one of my favorite views to see here in Ripon is standing on top of the over pass at night. The lights are all so pretty and when it rains it shines off the pavement and looks beautiful. So that is a good motivation to get up the hill fast. 

Wednesday was a world wide missionary broadcast, all missionaries all over the world watched it. It was really powerful and helped me gain a better foundation of what my calling is as a missionary. Afterwards I went on my last exchange of the transfer. I worked up in union with sister lynn. She is in a full time bike area and it is pretty ghetto so there are always interesting things happening there. We had a great exchange together. This one spot we were working in had a ton of stray dogs. This one tiny chiwawa kept following us, we named him frito haha! He was so cute. He would come stand by us at the door and scratch on it when we knocked. It was the craziest thing. Frito was our third companion for awhile. The union sisters are teaching a high school girl and so we went to mutual with her. We watched a broadcast called face to face with Elder Rasband (the new apostle of the church), and it was SO GOOD. I love Elder Rasband, his testimony of the savior is so beautiful. We exchanged back at district meeting and it was my most favorite district meeting of all time. Hermana Sheffer is going home and she has been in the zone forever, we all love her, so we had a testimony meeting to send her off. We each stood and bore testimony of the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and then of one Christ like attribute our companion has taught us this transfer. It was the most simple, but powerful testimony meeting I have ever been in. It was touching to hear each missionary share their individual, and unique testimony of the same subject, and then to speak so highly of their companion. When sister wilkins stood and bore her testimony I was just brought to tears. It was so kind to hear her speak of me that way. The whole district was unified one last time and I really loved that district meeting. 

This week I also had two crazy powerful lessons! One with a inactive sister that is trying to stop smoking. She has been inactive for a long time and asked we taught her the lessons again. She was talking about the temple to us and without getting too specific we got the feeling that she did not have very high expectations for herself. We testified to her that she had so much divine potential and that she could make it to the temple. She could be and do those things, they are not out of her reach. To watch her expression change throughout the lesson as she realized who she could be with the help of Christ changed my heart. All her life people told her she couldn't be this or that and labeled her. We helped her see and continue to help her see who she is, a loved daughter of God who has divine potential no matter how old she is. The spirit in the lesson was so sweet and I increased my own testimony of who I am by testifying to her. It was a special lesson. The other lesson that was crazy powerful was my favorite lesson taught to an investigator EVER! We were teaching a couple, silvario and desree. We were teaching about who God is and what is his true nature. Sister Jeppson is a ward missionary and she came with us- she is amazing. Silvario really opened up and talked about how he is afraid religion will confine him. He loves to seek truth and has found it in many places. He doesn't want to lie and just commit to one church. Sister Jeppson led a discussion about how the church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints is a church of seeking truth. Joseph Smith restored the gospel by asking a question to the main source of truth, Heavenly Father. We ask questions, and get answers through personal revelation. I love how even the Prophet of the church, Thomas S. Monson asks us to go home and pray to confirm what he councils us as truth. We rejoice in truth. I can seek all truth everywhere, because everywhere has truth, while having my feet planted in the foundation of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. It just reminded me how personal the gospel is, and how important it is for us all to get on our knees and ask Heavenly Father our questions to receive truth. I have done this, and I can say that I know that the church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints is Christ's church restored to the earth today with the priesthood authority to act in His name. It was a powerful lesson, and once again my own testimony was greatly strengthened by the discussion. I am so blessed to be apart of this gospel, were I can always seek for truth. I read 2 Nephi 29 in the Book of Mormon during a study of mine later on and it confirmed all I felt in the lesson. It is a wonderful chapter!

I love you all!!

all my love,
Sister Eleanor Neeley

Everyday is a party in Ripon… Not really, but we can pretend.

January 18, 2016

Hey hey hey!

So this week is the last week of transfers. That means transfers call come this weekend. I always get so anxious about them. I never know what to expect, so I have just stopped expecting haha. Every transfer so far I have been called to go or be something I was not expecting, so we will see how it goes. We had zone conference this past week and that was really amazing. Three different zones of missionaries came together (Turlock, Modesto North, and the Manteca Zone) to hear president and sister Palmer speak to us. It is always so fun to see all the missionaries and get to know them. And the talks were really inspiring and uplifting. Sister Wilkins and I got so much added strength that we had been praying for to bring back to our area and our companionship. At zone conference president pulled me aside and told me how pleased he was with my companionship and the growth he has seen in sister wilkins is just so incredible. She was a different sister he said, and he is proud of me for following the spirit in helping her realize more fully her potential. It meant so much to me. I felt a lot of pressure all transfer to help my area and my companion in some specific ways that president had expressed he was trusting me to do. It was so comforting and relieving for him to have that conversation with me. The last thing I would want to do is disappoint president and my Heavenly Father, so it was an answer to my prayer for this. I have a sneaky feeling though that the spirit has been trying to tell me this for awhile now and once again I was just being too self critical to listen- imagine that! I am thankful though that Heavenly Father loves me enough to quite clearly, and frankly answer my prayer despite my weaknesses. 

I went on an exchange this past weekend with my oakdale sisters, and sister wilkins stayed to lead the area (which she rocked!!), and I was working up in oakdale. It is so sketchy, I love it! We meet the most interesting people there and there were lots of opportunities for me to speak in Spanish so it was really fun. My bike is currently broke and being fixed, so we drove then walked around most of the day. I will hopefully have my bike back this week. I hate walking- all I think about is how much faster and more time effective biking to this place would be haha. The exchange went really well though, and sister amos and I both learned a lot and got to trust each other more. It is always fun to do exchanges, but nice to be back! I am happy to be back in Ripon with sister wilkins. This past week we have been working hard and having fun together. We have been laughing so much this past week, which is awesome because things were a little stiff you could say in the beginning of the transfer, but we are just pals now. It's awesome. Side note- we are singing a duet in sacrament meeting (assuming transfers go as planned...LOL...) and I am dead scared! Sister wilkins is a vocal performance major so maybe if I lip sing they will just focus on her and all will be swell. Sounds like a plan to me? This week though was fun. An elder gave us these weird jelly beans called "bean boozled". So basically there are different colors of jelly beans, and for each color there are two possible flavors it could be. A delicious flavor and a nasty flavor. For instance the white ones could be coconut or baby wipes. The yellow could be popcorn or moldy cheese. The brown chocolate or canned dog food. So in our dull moments we would bring out the bean boozled box and play. We would just die of laughter at the faces we would make as we ate the bad ones- which by the way really do taste SO BAD. Like I ate a rotten egg one and my stomach hurt the rest of the night, and I didn't even swallow it! So seems ridiculous I know, but it was just what we needed to make our week more lively. 

The work has been good this week. We have gotten really close with an inactive sister from the ward and we are helping her stop smoking! It is amazing to see the changes in her life as she tries to really embrace Christ to help her. Some of the people we are teaching are not really progressing which makes me really sad, but we have seen so many miracles this week. We have set plans to help those people we teach who are struggling. Also we have met a ton of people that we have return appointments with this week. I am so excited and have a lot of faith that some of these people will want to hear about the Gospel. One really cool instance was finding Dorinda. We were looking for a house of a potential investigator, and we could not find it. We must have went up and down the street 5 times. As we got to the end of the street we saw a lady and walking her small daughter home from school so we stopped to talk with them. I felt the spirit so strongly as we talked and we were invited back for this week to teach more. Right after this instance, we found the house we were looking for. We passed by it so many times, but I know that we didn't find that house right away because we needed to meet Dorinda. The spirit is truly directing us, even when in the moment we feel lost and confused. Both of our testimonies grew from it and we hope to keep that perspective this week when days seem like they are just not going our way. The weather this week is kind of cool and rainy, but it is fun that all the oranges are just about ready to pick here. And the lemons! There are orange and lemon trees EVERYWHERE. It is so cool. People always give them to us. It is really cool to see. 

ALSO I GOT AMAZING NEWS! I was doing new member lessons and helping a recent convert family back in Mountain House, the Bollas!!. I got super close with them. I love their family. They told me today that they are getting endowed and sealed together as a family! I am EXPLODING WITH HAPPINESS. They have had such a trial filled road and for them to be so close in their preparation to the temple is so special. I am seeing if I can get permission to be there. It would be really special. We will see what happens I am so excited. 

So today my district is going on a trip to big trees! We have members to take us and we are so excited! It will be so pretty. I am pumped. Last monday I was stuck in down town modesto getting our car fixed in the ghetto for two hours so this monday will be totally awesome!!! 

all my love,
Sister Neeley

Pictures from January 18th, 2016

Some of the orange and lemon trees along the road




Hanging out in the ghetto part of Ripon



Friday, March 11, 2016

Ripon - People are warming up, but the weather is cooling down

January 11, 2016

Hey hey hey!

There is only two more weeks of this transfer left! Where did all the time go! And at the end of this month I will have been out of 6 months. Time feels to be really flying. This week has had really hard times and also really good times. I will start with the really good times. The mission home is in our area as I have mentioned before, so Sister Palmer one afternoon wanted us to come have lunch with her there. This is a real treat for missionaries, the mission home is so beautiful and usually missionaries get to go there twice on their mission- when they get here and right before they leave. We felt super blessed to have that time to talk with Sister Palmer. Afterwards, she brought us around to all her friends (and there were many) in the neighborhood and introduced us to them. They asked us the weirdest questions! So funny story- when the neighborhood heard that a mission home for the mormon church would be moving in SO MANY crazy rumors were going around about what this would mean. They thought all the missionaries would live there together. People were literally like afraid of us, and were so mad we were coming into the neighborhood. Of course, as soon as president and sister Palmer actually moved in and went around meeting everyone many of the rumors (not all haha) were put to rest. So it was fun to meet everyone and show them who we really are what we are all about. They were just so surprised that I was a normal girl who went to college, liked sports, had interests and goals, and yes felt very passionate about my church as well. I am praying that the effect of our visits that day go far beyond just those neighbors, and that more of the community can be open minded to having us around. After that fun afternoon, Sister Palmer wanted to come work with us. She joined us for a lesson with our investigator, Silver. I will admit it was pretty nerve wracking teaching in front of Sister Palmer, but it went so well. Afterwards, she told Sister Wilkins and I that we had become some of her most trusted sisters...I like fan girled inside. That was close to the best compliment I could ever hope to get, and it really meant a lot to us. Sister Wilkins and I had a lot of growing pains to start off this transfer, and opening the area here was pretty confusing and lonely so to know how proud she was of us meant the world. I have been trying to stay a float a lot of this transfer in what felt like a sea of discouragement some days, and her spirit of love and appreciation for us really hit home for me. One (of my many) tragic flaws is always over stepping the line between self improvement and just being too hard on myself. I am really learning a lot about how to find the right balance with that as I have been serving my mission, and moments like this really boost me as I do. As does all of your encouraging words from home. 

This week the weather has been really rainy. El nino is the buzz here, meaning a lot of storms pretty much. We needed it here in California though! There has been flooding going on, but no one really complains because of how much we need it. Especially here in Ripon, there are a ton of farms that surround the city and they having been praying for a long time for the rain. The rain has cooled things down even more so not always the most fun for us biking, but we still are grateful for it. Our nights actually are what have made this week have some really hard moments. We are still getting to know our ward, and they are just now warming up to us so finding places to be in the evening have been such a struggle. In my last area, evening hours have always been a hard thing that required extra planning, but here in Ripon they require A LOT of extra planning. This week unfortunately appointments we had made got canceled so a good amount of the nights we found ourselves biking around in the cold to a bunch of different unanswered doors. And I really get it, it is cold and it gets dark early and everyone has a million different things to do so it is hard to find time. But that doesn't really help our cause either haha. Anyways- we are determined and committed to put even more effort and prayer into planning our nights this week! And we are off to a good start too, tonight we have booked appointments. I really have the faith that if we are truly trying our best to be diligent and obedient, that God will place us exactly where we need to be even if that place is a knock at someones door who doesn't let us in. He sees the bigger picture, I only see what my perspective lets me. 

More fun things this week, we had stake conference and Elder Penmental from the seventy came. He is was amazing. I learned so much. In fact during conference I had a prayer answered that I had been pondering about for months now. It was more a feeling I felt than words, so explaining it will be hard but I will try. I have been just analyzing myself so closely and critically about how I can have more faith these past few months, and as Elder Penmental spoke, he took a pause from the his talk and felt impressed to share a very small and powerful story about a missionary in Germany- which really had little or nothing to do with what his talk really was about. I am convinced that he was impressed to share it as an answer to my prayer. As he told his story the spirit just spoke so clearly to my heart and told me to stop making it more difficult than it needs to be. If I want great faith- then have great faith. It is a choice I can make, I just need to make it. It sounds sooooo simple right?! But I think the feeling that accompanied those words from the spirit is what I really needed. I can choose to have great faith and this week everyday I will wake up and choose it. I do not need to do anything complicated. I am not sure if any of that made sense, but I just felt so loved by my Heavenly Father in that moment and I know He wants to answer my prayers- and all our prayers- because He loves us, and we are His children. 

I am looking forward to a lot of good things happening this week, and I am so thankful for all the prayers and love you send. I got mom's package with the skirts and THEY ARE SO CUTE! I love them! Also the proactive was so nice! Thank you so much I love you, talk to you next week.

All my love, 
Sister Neeley