Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Mountain House part 2

August 29, 2016

Hey!
We got our transfer calls last night. After being in Ripon for 9 months, I am being transferred...BACK to Mountain House. That was my very first area where I was trained. Now, a year later I am heading back and training a brand new missionary. Everything about this transfer call was so shocking to me. I love Ripon so much, my time here has been so kind to me, but I did feel like it was time to leave. I was guessing to go somewhere new, out of the Manteca Zone so this was a shock! I have been serving in the Manteca Zone my whole mission so far, but I guess that is just where the Lord needs me to be, and I am so willing to do whatever He asks of me. So back to Mountain House I go. Anyways, I am a bit anxious to go back there. Since the ward was newly formed when I opened the area last year, they have never had a baptism. So I really have my work cut out for me. I am very excited to go back to the ward there though, I really loved them and had a great relationship with everyone. I was really close with so many of the people there, it will be so good to serve with them once again. This next transfer will be very interesting, I am excited to meet my new missionary and get to it!

So this past week was about the same, but we did have some exciting things happen to us. We got a bunch of new referrals from both members and missionaries that we are so excited to start working with (well sister Talbot will work with them...I am leaving tomorrow haha).
And on Saturday Ashley got baptized in to the YSA ward. My talk at her baptism went really well. I was so nervous but it was still good. The musical number I preformed, I Believe in Christ on the violin, went really really well too. It was the best I have played it yet. The whole night was special and I was so happy to be apart of it. 
Chad gets baptized into the YSA ward this Friday, so since I am still in the zone, hopefully I will be able to go and be there for him. I am so happy he is getting baptized!

This week I am keeping one of my favorite scriptures I am sure I have shared before close to my heart with all the change going on. It is in 1 Corinthians 2:9. It says "But as it is written, eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." Heavenly Father's plans and dreams for me are so much bigger than my own plans and dreams. I can trust in that because He loves me with a perfect love. His whole purpose is for me to grow and be happy. Everything He asks me to do is because He knows how much it will help me. That knowledge carries me from day to day. I am forever grateful for His love and His plans for me.

all my love,
sister neeley

The trial doesn't change, but we can

August 22, 2016

Hey!

This week has been better for me. My situation has not changed very much with everything going on, but my heart has changed, and so I feel stronger to keep running this stretch of my marathon. I can't exactly put my finger on what moment this changed occurred in the past week for me, but I recognize the peace I feel now and the increase of faith and hope I received. It is funny how answers to our most earnest and desperate prayers can come in such a gentle and quiet way- almost unnoticeable if you aren't actively looking for it. So we are still struggling to teach more lessons in our area right now, and our investigators kind of dropped off the face of the planet this week and our recent converts have been really tied up this week, but we have some people we are slowly working with still. I am just choosing to trust God's will and timing. We are working our hardest and having faith, the rest we turn over to the Lord. There are so many good things happening here despite our lack of lessons, and I have grown so much these past few weeks. Training is continuing to get better and better. I seriously love training, I really do. It is hard but it keeps you so accountable and you just have a special spirit. My companion made huge strides this past week. Our studies are more in depth, our finding is more diligent, and she naturally is taking more leads in lessons and conversations. I am so impressed. We are seeing goals we have made at the beginning of the transfer, become some of our biggest companionship strengths. I have learned so much this transfer, and from her as well. When you hit the point where you start becoming more of friends rather than just companions, everything becomes more fuller and enjoyable. We definitely laughed more this week together- especially when our day just was not good at all, and it made it easier to get through. A little fun and a little sense of humor goes a long way on a hard day. Next week is transfers so I will know if I stay or go. It will be interesting to see what happens. I have been here for 9 months now, but I am only half way done training sister Talbot, so we will see!

Something so special that happened was a girl I taught in the YSA ward Michaela got baptized this weekend. I was really happy for her. And then next weekend another girl sister winn and I found (well she found us haha) and taught in the YSA ward, Ashley, is getting baptized!! She asked me to give the talk on baptism at her baptism and also to play my violin as a special musical number. I am so happy and excited to be apart of her day, I love her so much!! So I am really looking forward to that, and I am so grateful for this opportunity. 

This week I have been just drawn to time after time, Romans chapter 8 from the new testament. It is seriously one of the most beautiful chapters I have ever read, and I don't even understand a tenth of it yet. I feel like some of the books in the new testament are like poems, and you have to really ponder what the metaphor or analogy they are using means. It is so cool that depending on where you are in life, it will mean a different thing to you. The scriptures are such a source of answers and strength to me, and they are so powerful. In studying Romans 8:18,24&25&28,
18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
 24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
 25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.
28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
I just felt hope. That any suffering or pain we go through is not even comparable to the happiness that God has for us ahead. Everything that happens to us is for our good from such a loving Father in Heaven who wants nothing more than our happiness. I know that is true and that is what I cling to when I am going through hard times. And then at the very end of the chapter, verses 35-39, 
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
 36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
I was just overwhelmed with a feeling of love and peace. No matter what happens to us on this earth, any worse case scenario you can think of, will not be final for us. We truly do conqueror all through "Him that loved us". I know that there is nothing that can separate any of us from the love Jesus Christ has for every one of us individually- no decision too bad, no life circumstance too hard, not even death. Jesus Christ was sent to us by a loving Father in Heaven, and they love us with a perfect love. We can have faith and peace in struggling times because with that perfect love, is the promise that if we trust Them all things will work together for our eternal happiness. I have such a testimony of that. I know it is true.
all my love, 
sister eleanor neeley
 Sunset in Ripon

ahahahahahahahaha 12 week gets real with us. good times trainingggggggg

My old companion Sister Wilkins and I! I love her!!

Sister Winn and I and Elder Lopez before he went home a few weeks ago


Sister Talbot and I

Another marathon week

August 15, 2015

Hey,

This week was another marathon week for me, just really trying to press forward and keep up my endurance. Most of the people we are teaching still haven't gotten back to us, but we are still praying for them and working hard. Tristan was the only one who wanted to be taught this week. We got to talk about the plan of salvation and it was really powerful. He has two boys he raises alone and in some hard situations so this message really struck home for him. He ended up being too nervous to show up to church which was sad. He feels like he looks too different to go to church, we are hoping he can see that church isn't about looks at all but is about growing closer to Jesus Christ. We have another lesson with him tonight I am really looking forward too. We are working hard to just do Heavenly Father's will here in every way we can. Sometimes it can be easy to say to myself, I am not making any difference, but I know that I am. And Heavenly Father sends me little tender mercies to assure me He is aware of me. For example, at the end of one of our nights we felt like we really needed to go see this girl Adriana- who we stop by and talk with when we can catch her home. She was just in tears as we talked, she has been having a really hard time and she is all alone. She just got done praying for God to send her His angels to help her, and then we knocked.We were able to comfort her and be with her in a troubling time. Even though she is not in a place to take lessons right now, just sharing that moment with her allowed me to see that I am helping people even when I don't think I am. This is the Lord's work, and it is done in small and simple ways.

I have been reflecting on my favorite scripture this week. Matthew 11:28-30, "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn on of me; for I am meek and lowly of heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Christ is telling us to find rest, we just need to follow Him. He is so meek and humble, and His burden truly is light. My burdens can be light too as I try to be more meek and humble like Christ. Humility to me right now, means just accepting with a faithful heart all that Heavenly Father puts on my shoulders, and trusting that His way is the best way for me. No burden is ever too heavy if we remember that it is placed there for a reason by a Father in Heaven who loves us more than we know, and wants us to keep growing and progressing to be like Him. 

all my love,
sister eleanor neeley

Keeping steady and sure on the long stretches

August 8, 2016

Hey!

This week was a good week overall. At first it was really really exciting. In just two days we found two new people to teach. One of them is this guy Tristan we have been trying to teach for months now, so finally sitting down and teaching him was such an awesome experience. And another was this amazing media referral we contacted, Natalee. Both first lessons were really great and the spirit was strong...but since then, both have cancelled multiple lessons and have been going through some hard things. And then the same thing with Laura who we are teaching also. So it was a little discouraging to us this week, especially with it all occurring right after a lot of excitement, but we kept pressing forward with the week. Still waiting to hear back from those we are teaching, but even so we have seen little miracles through out the week helping us keep our faith strong. 

President Palmer sent out an email to the mission this week and it really got me thinking. I feel like my mission (and even my life) is more like a marathon race rather than shorter sprints. There are some points in the race where I am really moving fast like a sprint, but more of the time I am just steadily moving forward. I think that it is during the long, steady stretches where I show what I am really made of. That is where a lot of my learning takes place. I feel that this part of the race is a more crucial time for me than the short sprints. It is faith in Jesus Christ and diligence in the smalls things that keep me going in the long stretches of the race. I just need to keep going- holding to the knowledge that eventually I will get to experience a sprint again when the time is right. As I keep my pace and don't let up, I can be sure I am doing what Jesus Christ would have me do. A scripture that really meant a lot to me early on on my mission has been coming to mind as I thought about this all, and it is found in Doctrine and Covenants 64:33. Its says, "Wherefore be not weary in well doing- for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great." I know the Lord works by small means, but that does not mean they are unimportant. So this week I am keeping steady and moving forward, and I know in God's timing things will work out.

all my love,

sister neeley


The fattest cat I have ever seen (or held)!!

"For behold the day cometh that shall burn as an oven"… that day was this week in Ripon

August 1, 2016

This week was slightly rough with our teaching appointments, most of them cancelled this week- just one of those weeks. And I am sure the heat did not help haha. We are in a biking area and this week was a huge heat wave. Everyday was in the 100s. They said even that one of the days it got to 110 where we were! It was SO HOT. The scripture in 3Nephi 25:1 is coming true, "For behold the day cometh that shall burn as an oven...." hahaha really though!! We did our best to stay hydrated and cool as we biked around (I was still seriously so sweaty and gross...gave up on looking cute this week). We did get to meet twice with Laura and teach her some, her son is a recent convert of the YSA ward. She is willing to hear more, but seems pretty hopeless at this point about her relationship and spirituality with God. She is a very sarcastic and joking person (she's really funny!), but as we meet she asked a lot of hard questions and I just saw her in a whole different light all of the sudden. I could tell that through all the joking and such, she did have questions and she has had experiences that really have been hard for her. We are excited to keep teaching her. Her son Gregg is so excited too, this means a lot to him we can tell. 

A funny side note, I am not sure if this app game "pokemon go" or something is big back in PA but here it is HUGE! All these people are out all the time walking around playing it on their phones (you have to walk around outside to play it) and it rocks for missionary work haha! Seriously though! So many more people are out and about walking around and willing to talk with us. There are like "pokemon gyms" for the game or whatever in certain spots around town so people are always around those. It is so hilarious to see, slightly sad I am missing this fad haha. It is awesome though that even through pokemon God's work is being done! The best was after talking to this one guy we prayed with him and he wanted to say it, in his prayer he prayed for the ability to "go catch them all" and was dead serious about it. It has been funny to watch this game become contagious out here.

This week we also did service at the chicken coop again and it was hot. Probably my least favorite activity in the world but it felt good to help out our friend Debbie we met. She is just the sweetest. It was also awesome because sister winn and her companion came to help us as well with it!! It was so fun to see sister winn!! She got the title of "master chicken wrangler" for the day...sooooo that sums up how our chicken coop service went. We also got the opportunity to have dinner with president and sister palmer and the LeBeaus again. They still don't want to take any lessons from us, but love to talk with us. We are all good friends. We have dinner again next week with them all at president palmer's home. 

Church was exciting this week! Robert blessed the sacrament for the first time and it was such a great experience for him. He was so excited and nervous. He is a really tall dude so when they all stood up he towered over the tiny boys, it was funny but awesome too see. I love Robert and Trisha, they are like my favorite people in the world. And this week they are going to the temple to do baptisms again (Robert's first time and Trisha's second time). It makes me so happy to hear. They are doing really well.

So we had some things fall through this week, but there is a lot of potential here. Hopefully this week we get to see more of it in action. I know that good things are happening and will continue to. A scripture that was really powerful for me to read this week was in Alma 32:21-22 from the Book of Mormon. It says, "..faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen which are true...God is merciful unto all who believe on his name; therefore he desireth, in the first place, that ye should believe.." God needs us to have faith and believe so that He can help us out. He will work with us so patiently and lovingly wherever we might be, if we allow Him to. He doesn't ask us for perfection or some standard of knowledge before He helps, He asks us to just believe. He won't rescue or help us against our will. A favorite quote of mine from Elder Holland (who is also my favorite) says this, "Just believing just having a molecule of faith...that simply step when focused on the Lord Jesus Christ, has been and always will be the first principle of His Eternal Gospel, the  first step out of despair." I know that as we have faith, however much we can muster, we instantly then allow God's grace to fill our lives and help us out to make that next step.

all my love,
Sister Eleanor Neeley

Pictures from August 1st, 2016

The sisters in my zone

Sister Talbot and I



He will not leave us comfortless

July 25, 2016

Hola!

This week of the new transfer has been seriously an amazing experience for me...but also one of the hardest weeks of my mission. I was with my last companion sister winn for 6 months. I felt so off and slightly alone for the first little bit without her. Almost like I forgot how to even be myself, crazy. And I forgot what it felt like to have that new awkward-just getting to know you feeling. So there were some really hard moments for me that I kept inside and to myself (so that I didn't freak or stress out my new missionary haha), but Sunday was a turning point for me. I still am figuring things out but I am doing much better. I love my new companion!! Her name is Sister Talbot and she just arrived on her mission. She is from Texas and just barely turned 19. She is just the cutest thing ever! She is a little shy but really funny. And she is so willing to work and have faith and be obedient. We will have a great transfer together. I am already learning so much from her. I am excited.

We just covering the Ripon area. I have been here for 7 and a half months currently...by the end of the transfer I will have spent half my mission here. I feel like a true riponite! I am not disappointed at all to still be here though, everyday we go out, we find and talk to new people. I know there are things left for me to do here for God. Our teaching is starting from ground zero though this transfer. When they split me from covering Ripon and the YSA wards, I left all my investigators. So we are currently in full force finding mode. We get out and we bike all day (it was 106 the other day..soooo hot!!) and we talk to everyone we can. We have some return appointments set up for this week so hopefully we will start actively teaching these people. Tonight we are actually having dinner with the mother of a kid who was just recently baptized into the YSA ward a few months ago. She said she wanted to know more about the church, and invited us over to share more. We are very excited for this! Oh and this week we taught this man named Ben! Sister Winn and I meant him our last monday together at walgreens in Ripon. He works there and we started chatting as we checked out and invited him to learn more. We taught him about the restoration of Christ's gospel and he committed to be baptized, it was a really amazing lesson. Sadly though, he lives in Lathrop, another town near by, so we are passing him off to the missionaries who serve in that town. We are excited to keep hearing how he does. I want my new companion sister talbot to have more and more teaching opportunities so bad. I am praying and working really hard to find those, along side of her. We are doing are best and I feel peaceful that we will carry out the work God has for us here, whatever that might be. Good things are happening right now though too, we are building a strong foundation in diligence and faith together, and that is what will carry us through hard days in our mission. It is an important lesson to learn, and to always be learning.

We do teach a ton of lessons each week to our recent converts, Kelly, Trisha, Robert, and a girl Zoey. It is a good opportunity for sister talbot and I to get comfortable teaching together in a less stressful environment. I love those lessons so much. They are always a highlight of my day, and they remind that there are more people like them here- right now- who are waiting to be taught. The Souzas and Kelly and her husband Marco are all going to the temple tomorrow with the ward to do baptisms. I am so happy and excited for them! Today we are all meeting and doing family history together in preparation for their trip. I feel blessed to still be working with them all.

So this week has been full of a million emotions. I am excited to be here in Ripon full time and to start teaching more and more with my new companion! There have been, and I am sure there will still be, hard times for me, but I know it will be okay and that Heavenly Father is aware of me personally. He is taking care of me, especially in those hard moments. I was praying out loud in my bathroom on sunday after having a hard few moments and I had a scripture come into my head so clearly. It was John 14:18, Jesus Christ is speaking and He says, "I will not leave you comfortless, I will come to you." I felt that truth become a reality to me immediately. I was blessed with comfort and with a heavenly assurance He is here for me. I know it is true for everyone of us. His promise stands- no matter how long it has been, no matter what things we have done, no matter how undeserving we feel. He will not leave us alone, He will come to us. We just have to allow Him to, and we will find that when we do allow Him to come to us that He has been anxiously waiting there all along to be let in. That promise means everything to me. I know it is true. 

all my love,
sister eleanor neeley

Changes can be scary

July 18, 2016

Heyy!

So transfers. I am staying in Ripon and I will be training a new missionary. We will only be covering the Ripon ward. Sister Winn will be covering only the YSA ward with her new companion Sister Webb, as sister training leaders. I am so grateful for this opportunity to train a new missionary this transfer. I am super humbled by it. I am pretty nervous about how big this responsibility is, but I know Christ will be with my new companion and I to strengthen us. I don't even know who she is yet, but I love her and I am praying for her continually already! I can not wait to meet her. I will do everything I can to be the best trainer for her, and then leave the rest up to the Lord. I have been in Ripon quite some time now, but I feel that there is more for me to do. I have been here 7 1/2 months currently, and after this coming transfer I will have served half my mission here! I got on my knees last night and prayed for a confirmation of this change, and I know it is from the Lord. I am willing and excited to do the Lord's will this transfer. 
Yes- I am so sad to leave Sister Winn- tears were shed. Sister Winn has changed my life these past 6 months. I am a different person than I was 6 months ago because of her. I am so grateful to have been her companion, and I know it is time now that I spread her love and influence to other sisters. I am also grateful for my time to be serving as a sister training leader. It is sad to have a change because I will not see as often the other sisters that I have grown to see as truly my own sisters, but I know the Lord needs me to do something different for Him right now. I am full of a million emotions currently! Ah! But the strongest one is that God loves me, He knows what is best for me, and He will forever be there for me.

Kelly got baptized on Saturday, and confirmed the Holy Ghost on Sunday. It was such a special weekend to end the transfer. She is so so sweet, just the cutest. She bore her testimony at her baptism, right after being baptized and it was the most sincere thing I have ever heard. She was so nervous and shaking- she has people anxiety- but as she stood and testified you could see a confidence sweep over her. She is so cute, she calls sister winn and I her angels. We love her and were so happy for her and Marco. Before she went up to be confirmed on Sunday, she was holding my hand as tight as she could- she was so nervous! Her blessing as she got the Holy Ghost was so beautiful. It talked about her making it to the temple to be sealed to Marco her husband for all eternity and I felt the spirit so strong! And she is got her temple recommend the same Sunday! Kelly and the the Souzas (they got baptized last month) are all going to the temple with the ward next week and I could not be happier!
We are in a bit of a lull after Kelly's exciting baptism, but the Lord will provide for us this transfer as we work diligently. We were spending most of our time in the YSA ward this past transfer because we had so many set teaching appointments. It is really sad for me to leave those people we were teaching, I love love love them so much! I will make it hopefully to Chad, Michela, and Ashley's baptisms though when they come. Ashley accepted baptism this week and is like a sponge. She brings a note pad for notes to our lessons so she can remember what we teach more, and is half way done reading the book "our heritage"...like who is this girl haha?! She like totally freaked out when we told her about transfers, she is super shy, but she will do awesome and I will continue to pray for her all the time. God is already helping us out in Ripon though. There is an inactive recent convert in the YSA ward we have been working with, and he just asked his mom who lives in Ripon (well technically Manteca but that part is still in our area) if she wanted to take lessons and she said she did! So hopefully that will be starting up this week. Us- the ripon sisters- would teach her. I trust that there will be more miracles as we continue to act in faith.

I have a lot of different emotions going into this transfer, but like I said, I know that it will all be okay and that this is another chance for me to grow even more into the daughter God needs me to be for Him.

all my love,
Sister Eleanor Neeley

Pictures from July 18th, 2016

Kelly at her baptism - so special! :)


Sister Winn and I at a member's house before the baptism 

My district last transfer - I really loved them!

Fierce picture from our mission district… sorry if it's not cool… 
we are behind the times in our mission bubble



Last picture with Sister Smith - so goes home to Ohio! SO close to home!

Remembering what Christ has done for me

July 11, 2016

Hey everyone!

I will start off with bad news then good news for my email. Bad news is I had my first bike crash! I was on an exchange in Modesto and the sister stopped in front of me, but I was trying to keep my bag from falling after going over a huge bump so I was not looking and then... I just smashed into her. I was hauling down this street, going so fast. Bikes went flying and I also went flying over top of it all. Nothing awful happened though, some minor bike repairs were needed and some scraps and bumps on our end of it all thankfully. It is kind of crazy that is all that was needed, I really hit her bike hard- like demolition derby style. Such a blessing it all worked out okay. I guess for as much as I ride my bike it was bound to happen at least once. Now I have it out of the way though, and no more bike crashes for me!

This week we had a lot of appointments and with exchanges mingled in throughout the whole week, we were busy to say the least. But busy is what I love to be, so I had a great week. Kelly is getting baptized this Saturday at 7 pm and we could not be more excited!! What a beautiful way to wrap up our transfer. She has grown so much in the last month. Her and her new husband Marco are doing amazing. Kelly's testimony is so strong, and she sees the big picture. She knows baptism is an essential, wonderful gate on her journey to eventually enter the temple to make more covenants, and ultimately be sealed to her love Marco for all time and eternity. Kelly and Marco were telling us how that is their goal in one year, and hearing them make goals for it made me feel the spirit in overwhelming amounts. 

The YSA work is really expanding recently. We are getting so many referrals and miracles. Most of our teaching is happening here. I love working in the YSA. The kids our age who we are teaching are just so strong. Most of them are on this spiritually journey alone, without the support of friends or family members, and are often carrying some heavy weight with them. Seeing them receive the peace and healing from the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ gives me such an added strength. I am inspired by each of them daily. We had a crazy miracle this week. Just minutes before the YSA ward began, we were outside just being out in the sun (the chapel was FREEZING), and this girl starts walking in that we have never seen before so we go over and introduce ourselves. She tells us that she wants to learn more about our church, and then proceeds to pull out all of the scriptures and missionary pamphlets that she has bought and been reading. She said she loves it all and has tons of questions about it- then asked who could she talk to to learn more...we happily explained that is our purpose as missionaries. I wish you could have seen our faces...we were just in a state of pure amazement and joy. Ashley stayed for all of church and then set up a lesson with us for the next few days. We love her, she is just the cutest thing! I am excited to teach and get to know her more. 

I am anxious with the new transfer arriving next week, I have been pretty much the same for awhile. It will be hard for me if I will change, but I know that Jesus Christ will be with me whatever I do next.The past few weeks of my mission have been the best weeks of my life. I just have felt the spirit in my heart in such a strong, new abundance, and my gratitude for being here on my mission has grown and grown. I don't have words enough to say how much this opportunity means to me. I feel like Alma did from the Book of Mormon. In Alma chapter 29 verse 10 he says, "And behold, when I see many of my brethren truly penitent, and coming to the Lord their God, then is my soul filled with joy; then do I remember what the Lord has done for me, even that he hath heard my prayer, yea; then do I remember his merciful arm which he extended towards me." I am remembering more and more,and deeper and deeper, all that Jesus Christ means to me. The times when he has reached out and pulled me up out of hard times. When He has comforted me in comfortless times. When He has offered understanding when I felt none. That fact that no matter where we are in life, there is always that spiritual light beckoning us to Him with the hope of safety and rescue. I know that through Jesus Christ, I will find my only source of happiness and peace, and sharing that truth with others has deepened my own understanding and love more than I thought was possible. 


all my love,
Sister Eleanor Neeley

The temple is what it's all about

July 4, 2016

Hola! 

This week was a very, very special week. I got a call from the Bolla family (from mountain house my previous area) last monday and was invited to be apart of their temple endowment. They have worked through so much to get to this place in their life and we got very close in this process while I served there. When I was in mountain house they were newly baptized and I was involved in teaching their new member discussions. The endowment session was for Friday at 8pm at the Oakland temple. I was nervous to ask President Palmer for permission because I was doubtful I would get it, especially with the session being so late, but President prayed about it and felt so good so he went ahead and asked for further permission from I think the area seventy of the church for us to be able to go. It is such a big deal to go because we would have to leave our mission boundaries, and that requires special permission. It all worked out though, and I and my companion were allowed to go! It was such a special experience for me. The Oakland temple is BEAUTIFUL. It over looks the bay area, and in the distance you can see San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge. The air there is so much cooler than in the central valley where we serve too! It is much  more humid and it just feels like a cool beach breeze. We got to the temple early so we were able to walk around it and take in all the peace and beauty of being there. Being in the temple was like a breath of fresh air to me, and seeing the Bollas in the temple made me just overwhelmed with happiness. I literally didn't know I could be so happy about anything. It was one of the best experiences I have had on my mission. The temple is what it is all about. It truly is the House of the Lord, and every time we go we leave with extra strength from God to face the trails and challenges of this life. I can not say enough how grateful I am to of had to opportunity to be apart of that night for the Bollas. I love them so much!

The morning before going to the temple was amazing as well. We got to go to a sister training leader breakfast at President Palmer's house and it was really special. He has been really busy lately so it was really nice to be able to catch up and council with him in such a personal setting. He is a really amazing mission president, and serving so close with him has been a huge blessing for me. I am constantly learning so much from him and his wife.

Our investigators are doing well! This week was a little sad with lots of cancellations (typical in YSA work haha...), but we saw miracles as well. We taught Chad more and more this week and he is excited to be baptized on the 30th. I have never taught someone so willing to follow Jesus Christ. We taught him the word of wisdom, about not drinking or smoking or taking in coffee and certain teas, and his reply before we could even explain why we have it or all the blessings was "well, looks like I will have to find a different favorite drink." He is really awesome! It is kind of nerve wracking teaching him because he is a quiet guy who keeps things to himself, but the spirit is always there so strong and every time he tells us he had his questions answered during the lesson (yet he never really tells us what the questions are!) He works so much so though so going to church is our biggest hurdle. I know though that God will provide a way for him to be obedient to His commandments if we have faith. Kelly is super super excited for her baptism on the 16th and she loved church on Sunday. Marco was a little uncomfortable attending the English ward for the first time, but he says it will be good for him and he knows how important it is to go to church with his wife. Oh yeah, and this week we contacted a YSA referral, Mena. Mena is so amazing! We only talked for a little bit, but she told us "this just is feeling right to me". We have an appointment to teach her this week and we are so crazy excited. She was the sweetest person. And she works at Kate Spade which is awesome haha. 

Another amazing thing that happened this week was that I got to work in the Spanish branch up in Modesto! We went on exchanges with the modesto 12th hermanas. It was the best day ever. I was working with hermana Maya who is a native spanish speaker. She was so so loving and encouraging with my spanish. As soon as I got there she let me (well...kind of forced because I was nervous haha) make the calls for our appointments the next day. I was so nervous but I did really well, and when I didn't understand she would help me out just enough to let me do it on my own still. The lessons and the members we taught that day were also so nice to me as well. They were excited that I was trying so hard to speak Spanish with them and be apart of the lesson. My bike ended up breaking down in the afternoon which was so frustrating- I HATE BIKE PROBLEMS- but the elders came and started fixing it for me. As they were trying to fix it, hermana maya and I saw this old homeless man in a wheel chair in the middle of the road struggling to get around. We both felt really prompted to go help him. He accepted our offer to push him where he needed to go, and he said it was just around the corner...well it actually turned out to be like 2-3 miles away. We didn't have heart to turn back ever so we just kept pushing him even though it was really taking awhile and we were sweating to death. We ended up a long ways away from where the bike was being fixed so the elders brought the bike to us. As we waited we went to this little ice cream shop near by owned by the branch president of their spanish branch. He told me I had to try his mangonada. It was very interesting but I loved it! It was mangos and sherbet....and then they put hot sauce and tajin on it too. It was weird but really good! It was a fun exchange and I really loved working with the hermanas and getting to speak spanish with them all day. 

I have this goal to finish the Book of Mormon again before my year mark on the 29th, so I am just constantly reading it. Every second I get I am reading. I feel such an increase of peace from doing this. I am really filling my heart and my mind with light and peace. As I was reading in Helaman I was so impressed with Nephi's example. I loved chapter 10:4. The part about Nephi not seeking his own life, but seeking God's will and His commandments really meant a lot to me. I feel like I am really learning this lesson on my mission. As I have tried and prayed and fasted, to follow and trust God's plan instead of my own plans, I have felt such a power in my life. I feel like I am really understanding who I am and who I can be with God, and that person is not even comparable to the person I, by myself, was planning on being. As the book of Helaman goes on, Nephi talks about the restlessness, and misery some of the people have because they "have sought for happiness in doing iniquity, which thing is contrary to the nature of that righteousness which is in our great and Eternal Head." And that sentence rang so true to me. I feel like our culture and other people try and tell us how to be happy- that is comes with how many things we have, how cute our clothes are, how fit we are, etc. but, I know that all of those avenues of happiness only have left me feeling still empty. We are spirit children of God, our spirit-our nature, is to do what is right and follow His Gospel. When we do that, we are being true to who we divinely are and we feel a peace and we feel liberated. It is freeing, being true to who we are inside. I still have a lot to learn about this all, but I am so grateful for the scriptures and for my mission for allowing me to change my heart in this way.


all my love,
Sister Eleanor Neeley

Pictures from July 4th, 2016

Oakland Temple
Sister Winn and I

Me with the Bollas at the temple

Elder Bell (he baptized the Bollas), Elder Baird, me and Sister Winn









Ice cream with Trisha for her birthday

4th of July with my zone!

4th of July outfits from Sarah!


Busy All the Time!

June 27, 2016

Hey!

This week was one of the busiest weeks I have had on my mission. It is so good to be busy though, so I am not complaining one bit! Three of the days we had to even cancel our dinner appointments to make more room for our teaching appointments, it was awesome!! (don't worry we brought snacks to eat in between the lessons). 

This week we had another mission leadership council and then another zone conference in Modesto. The Modesto mission is coming up on its one year mark of being organized, so President Palmer felt like this is the time for him to present the mission goals. The council and conference were so powerful to be apart of. I could really feel the unity of every single missionary coming together. We each wrote President an individual letter of what we will personally do to sustain this goal we have. For me, it was just the boost I needed. I have been feeling like I need to elevate my missionary work to the next level and this is just what I need to focus my efforts on. 

The YSA work this week was exploding. We get so many referrals all the time since the YSA ward covers the whole stake. We are teaching lots of new people this week. We got to teach Rudy, who we met last week, and it was a really awesome lesson. He is native american so he has some confusion seeing where Christianity fits in with his cultural beliefs, but he has a really open heart and mind. We are hoping to start teaching his fiance as well, it would be so powerful for their future family to be grounded in the Gospel. We have a hard time committing him to a specific time to teach, but when we do catch him free the lessons are powerful. We also started teaching Chad. Our first lesson was so intimidating but awesome. He is this huge military guy, and he doesn't say to much- he just stares and stares at you the whole time. When I relayed to him the first vision of Joseph Smith, he didn't break eye contact for one second! Hahaha it was so weird for me but the spirit was truly there. He prayed and asked God what church he should go to, and then the elders showed up on his doorstep (who then referred Chad to the YSA missionaries, aka us). Chad even came to a YSA activity on friday night...which....might not have been the best. It was pretty awkward I'll be honest, and we actually haven't heard from him just yet since then....but we have an appointment on thursday with him so hopefully we get to go back and teach him again. Also this girl Mickayla we are teaching now too. I guess the elders have been teaching her for over a year now...but I don't know how much she actually took in (or how much was actually taught..). So we all decided tog ether to start the lessons over and really help her gain a strong testimony. Her boyfriend is a member and they have been coming to church for like a year now together. She is just the sweetest, once again just hard to catch for a lesson. That is the hardest part about YSA, everyone is young and working or going to school and it is so hard get an appointment with them! Lots of things are unplanned and happen spur of the moment haha, it is exciting though. We love it.

In the Ripon area we had a awesome miracle this week. This guy Tristian who we tried to teach a couple months ago texted us out of the blue and wanted to meet with us. He had some really hard times hit and he remembered the peace he felt when we talked with him before. We tried to meet three different times and all three times he didn't show. On the last time, we totally saw him bike by the house though...we get the sense that he is just in a really hard place and is afraid to meet. We hope and are praying we can do everything we can to make him feel comfortable meeting with us. He reached out and obviously needs some peace, we pray he has the courage to go find it. He is Robert and Trisha's (our recent converts) neighbor actually too, so they are going to try and reach out to him as well. Robert and Trisha are doing so awesome! Every time we meet I am just blown away by them. They have become just are best friends, we love them so much. This weekend was stake conference and Robert was asked to say the closing prayer! He was so nervous but he did amazing. He got so many compliments afterwards and it meant the world to him. Robert might even come play basketball with us today at the church with all the missionaries, we always joke around who would win in 1 on 1. It will be so hilarious, I hope he comes. He is the best. I just love Robert and Trisha and I pray every night something amazing, something so good, will happen to them. They have really hard times, yet they just keep showing so much faith. They are such examples to me.
And Kelly and Marco are doing awesome too! She has overcome the biggest obstacles keeping her from baptism! She came to both sessions of stake conference too. Kelly is just so sweet. She can be so hard on herself, but she has made so such progress. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is changing her heart, and she feels that. She is excited to be baptized on the 16th.

These past couple weeks I have been studying in Alma from the Book of Mormon, the story of the strippling warriors. It is one of favorite stories in the Book of Mormon. They are just these young kids who have an incredible amount of faith and trust in God. They are so obedient to anything He asks of them. I have learned so much about obedience by studying their story, it really has changed my perspective. Alma 57:21,26-27 & Alma 58:37,40 are some of my favorite verses (you should read them!). Obedience is just an act of faith. It is saying, God I trust that your way rather than my way is better. Obedience is trust. And time after time, these young kids are delivered from the trails because they trust God enough to do exactly as He says. And it doesn't mean that it was a walk in the park for them. They had really hard times, and were wounded almost fatally, and were struck with fear at times..but still they put their trust in God and He was there for them every time. I love ALma 57:27, "..they are young and their minds are firm, and they do put their trust in God, continually." That is how I want to be, and I strive to work on that everyday. They are amazing examples to me I love reading that part of the Book of Mormon.


all my love,
sister eleanor neeley

Hola!

June 13, 2016

Hola!

This week was a bit of a blur for me trying to figure out things with my new assignments. There was just a lot of new things going on that we felt thrown into, but good things are happening and this coming week should be more calm and collected. It did not help sister winn and I both got a little sick this week in the midst of it all, so we were struggling to keep up with all the new work! We think we got food poisoning or something. It has mostly passed though and we are feeling better. 

Kelly our investigator from Ripon and her finace Marco go terribly sick this week! So we had two good lessons in the beginning of the week then didn't hear from them for days. They were supposed to get married on saturday but had to postpone the wedding till this coming saturday. We were bummed to find this all out, but we are really praying for them and we trust that God's timing is really just in play here. We have some more lessons set up this week and I hope that no one obstacles keep Kelly and Marco from learning more and following Jesus Christ more fully. We got to see Loud and Lisa this week twice which was awesome. Some lady gave me this beaten up guitar and Lou said he wanted to string it up for me so we went over. The guitar ended up being unsaveable, but we stayed and talked a lot with them about religion. Even though they don't choose to have formal lessons with us anymore, they are still reading and researching more. We had dinner together at President's Palmer house this week and Lou said he is really exciting about joining a bible study group with a group of friends from Modesto who are LDS, and one of them is a stake president. This will be really awesome for him. He has felt the spirit so strong at church, and in lessons with us. I know things are going to workout for him, just in a timing that only God knows. 

Robert and Trisha, who got baptized a few weeks ago, are doing so awesome! We love them so much. They are really loving the ward. Their car broke down this week and we found out a ward member who never met them, came and worked on their car for 5 hours for free. He fixed the problem and was an answer to their prayers. It is those silent acts of service that go unnoticed in wards but that mean the most. For one of our new member discussions we watched the restoration video, about Joseph Smith. It was seriously so HILARIOUS. Remind me never to watch a movie with Robert again hahaha. He comments on everything and it was so funny, he got so into it. He was like "why they per-sa-cutin him? why they doin that?! aint they know he is tellin the truth and only the truth!" or he would say "wooooow.man. wooooooow. I just cant imagine. He just a boy!". It was really funny to hear, but after we had a really powerful discussion on the restoration and Robert and Trisha both gave really beautiful testimonies about it. We love teaching them, they have this really strong spirit about them. They are willing to just do whatever it takes, and sacrifice whatever needed to follow Jesus Christ. 

Working with the YSA ward. Oh my. Where do I start...well I am actually still trying to figure that out myself right now haha. We got doubled into the ward and there is not much history or support to fill us in on the work that was going on. We figured it out a lot more though as the week went on. They have a family home evening every week together so we went this week and it was kind of weird I won't lie. I felt like new kid trying to fit in. Everyone was my own age and just got back from missions or going to school. We are finding out groove though. It is tricky trying to coordinate with two separate wards now, but we will figure it out as well. On sunday we go to double church, 6 hours of church which we figured out is kind of killer haha. We will need to bring snacks to get us through it for next week. This week at the YSA ward I gave a talk on the atonement of Jesus Christ and it went really well. It was a nice way to introduce us to the ward and to gain their trust. I think I am really going to like serving in the YSA ward, I just need some time to adjust to their work going on there.

We got our list of sisters this week, and it turns out they are not dividing sisters by language anymore, but by geography. We are over 6 companionships of sisters, and one of them are spanish speaking which will be really awesome to work with them!!!!!! I am so excited!! Not going to lie we are kind of sad to not work with as many of our sisters as before- we got really close with them all- but we are slightly relieved we will have more time now to work between the ripon and the ysa ward.

So this week's email is not the most flowing, but my week was not the most flowing haha. This week will be better and more organized! I love you and miss you!

all my love,
sister neeley

6 more weeks in Ripon (& Sister Winn!!)

June 6, 2016

Hey!

It has gotten incredibly hot here. One of the days it hit 108. It will be a hot summer. The nights cool down a bit, but it is still hot. I like the summer better though, it is much easier to work when it stays light outside longer. So it will be hot but I will just drink lots of water.

We got our transfer calls! I am staying in Ripon with sister winn again as sister training leaders! We are seriously so excited and happy to be here still. I have been here for 6 months already but the work is just starting to bloom, and having sister winn as my companion is the best thing in the world. The only change is that we will now also be covering the YSA (young single adult) ward!!!! So we are covering two wards. President Palmer told us he was very hesitant to give us the YSA ward to cover as well because of our other responsibilities but he was strongly prompted that we needed to be there. It will be a lot of work for us covering the Ripon and YSA ward, plus being sister training leaders (with now an extra set of sisters in our stewardship) but the Lord knows where we are needed and he will help us in every aspect. It will be weird to cover YSA because they are mostly returned missionaries and my age, but it should be really fun too. I am anxious to start the work there.

This week was a bit crazy with meetings. We had MLC (mission leadership council) this past tuesday because tomorrow is our transfer tuesday, which then means on the following thursday was a zone training to relate to the zone what we counselled about in MLC so that as a mission we are all on the same page and improving together. Then on Friday we had a sister training leader meeting to discuss any further concerns and needs with President and Sister Palmer as they make decisions on transfers. It was a cool meeting because it was at the mission home and it was a breakfast all together. I really appreciate how personable president palmer is to us, I feel comfortable being open and talking to him about anything I need to. Working so closely with him and his wife has blessed me more than they know. We went on our last two exchanges this week, in Oakdale and in Turlock and they went alright.

Kelly didn't come to church this week, neither did Marco her fiance. They said they were though, so as we sat in sacrament meeting every time a door would open our heads would whip around, but they never showed up. Those kinds of sundays can be slightly depressing but they happen! We just figure out how to best help them prepare to come next week. We have had four cancelled appointments in a row with them, but tonight we have another so we are praying it will go as planned. They continue to apologize and reschedule with us so that is a good sign. We know they are in a hard place right now in their lives and we are having compassion and understanding with them. I trust that in God's timing things will begin to workout. We will probably end up pushing her baptism date back to the 25th of June. We love them and are excited to keep teaching them.

The souza's our recent converts are getting into family history and are preparing for the temple! It makes me so happy to see how excited they are about family history. We had a lesson at the family history center with them. Hopefully in the next few weeks they will get to take their family names to the temple. Robert is very anxious to do the work for his Dad in the temple. I can only imagine what a healing experience that will be for him. 

So I am so excited to be in Ripon still with sister winn again and to take on the YSA ward now as well. It will be an adventure this transfer and hopefully this next week of transition will go smoothly for us and our sisters. I love you and I miss you!

all my love,
sister eleanor neeley

Pictures from May 30th, 2016

Trisha and Robert's Baptism



 Garden Party in Ione








Walking in the grapevines