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

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