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