Monday, January 9, 2017

God is Good

January 9, 2017 
(part 2)

This week has been so rainy here, and looks like it will be for awhile. This winter is supposed to be pretty rainy, which is such a blessing because of the drought going on. I think maybe it is what people are calling el nino or something, but everyone has their own opinions about that here haha. Point is, it is pretty rainy for awhile. It is hard because missionary work in the rain is tough, but nice because the clouds trap in all the heat so it has been a little warmer out. Of course it is California so it never gets that cold in reality, but I am thoroughly acclimated to the weather here so it feels bitter cold to me!

We continue to teach Lesley and small progress continues to happen. We love her family so much, they are so cute. She can be a shy person, and we feel like as she gets more comfortable with people from the ward, and makes some true friends, that things will start to progress much more quickly for her. This week her husband listened in to our lesson which was huge. The Spirit was there and we have faith it was softening his heart. We got some referrals (or miracles as we think of them) from Salt Lake this week and are still trying to contact them. These are people who went online and felt inclined to learn more from missionaries in their area after watching a video or looking around on A self-referral essentially. These are very special, and we are so excited to get to meet both people as soon as possible.
We had our stake conference this weekend which was just amazing. I was filled with the Spirit. I always love going to big meetings like that, it is a time for me where I am so open to personal revelation. I receive so many answers, and strength to keep enduring until other answers can come in God's timing. One really sweet moment of the meeting was on Saturday evening at the adult session, Elder Clayton from the Seventy called all the full time missionaries up to the stand, and the whole congregation sang with us called to serve. I could barely sing because of the Spirit that filled the room brought me to tears. I felt so loved and supported, and I looked out over the crowd as we sang and saw so many families that I have gotten very close with in both the areas I had the blessing to serve in. Their examples of faithfulness and true Christ like love as I have gotten to serve along side them hit me so hard in that moment and I felt overwhelmed with gratitude to be apart of this stake for my whole mission. It was a really powerful stake conference. 

Some fun things about this week was that Sister Kitahara taught me how to make sushi rolls. It was so fun and easy and delicious. We have been eating sushi rolls all week long. Also this thursday as we volunteered as usual at the senior center, we got to help them put on a tea party for the residents. It was an old Hollywood theme and they all dressed up with hats and fur coats. It was super cute and the residents loved it. I love getting to know the people there, both workers and the residents. They each have really special stories to share.

I am feeling very accomplished this week. I finished reading Jesus The Christ. There is so much depth to that book, I know I need to read and re read it over and over again. It has helped me understand better the teachings of Jesus Christ particularly from the Bible. And most importantly, it helped me get to know Him as my Savior and Redeemer in a closer, personal way. I also finished reading the Book of Mormon for the third time on my mission. As I start my study of it again, I am focusing on a single question, Who is Jesus Christ? This was inspired from my study and experience of reading Jesus The Christ. Also inspired from my study of the New Testament I finished a few weeks ago, I also posed this same question as I read through it and it was powerful. I just want to mark this fresh new Book of Mormon all about Jesus Christ. I want to know Him deeper and better. I am not exactly sure how to go about this to be honest, I don't feel particularly skilled in how to really focus my study effectively, but I have a desire and a willing heart. The Spirit will teach me the way as I just jump in and try. I'm going to not worry about "am I doing this right?" and just focus solely on what touches my heart personally. I feel like I am starting on a long trip and I am not sure where it will take me, but I trust I will end up closer to Jesus Christ.

The very first verse of the Book of Mormon is powerful and perfectly placed. Nephi starts out by saying, "I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father; and having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days; yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God, therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days. ". 

Nephi had so many trails, that I am sure tore at his heart. He had to abandon his home and everything he knew, he had to wander in the wildness without much food which was physically painful, his family was constantly tearing apart, he was almost killed multiple times by the people who were supposed to love him the most. Yet Nephi says he feels still favored of the Lord. He still knows God is good. That He never left him once despite his low times. That message exactly is what the Book of Mormon does for me, and can do for all of us. Despite the sorrow and despair we may feel at times or the trails that stretch us past our flexibility, when I read the Book of Mormon I am reminded God is good. Christ is my friend, and never leave me to walk these paths alone. There is a purpose to our trails, and as we turn to Christ He will help us see them.I have a testimony that God is a loving Father. Although we can't usually see the full plan He has for us, or the means He uses to help us grow, we can trust as we keep following we will one day find ourselves at His side. If we could even catch a glimpse to all He has in store for us I am sure walking this path would not be so hard. But we are to walk by faith not sight here on earth and so we need to trust Him. The Book of Mormon gives me the faith and the courage to have that trust and remember always God is good.

Transfer Call

January 9, 2017 
(part 1)

I got my last transfer call! I will be staying in Mountain House with Sister Kitahara for my last transfer. The ward is crazy excited about it, I have been with them for so long, and they knew me when I was brand new to the mission. I feel a lot of peace about it too, and I know this is where Heavenly Father needs me right now. 

This week a lot of people were out of town, but we still got to teach and bare testimony to others. We continued to teach Lesley, and her husband (in little ways) is softening his heart. We taught her twice again this week. We are trusting in the Lord's timing with that, but praying so hard everyday for a miracle to happen. This next week we will get to teach Washington again, and we really look forward to that lesson. He is an amazing guy with such a big heart. Everyday we get to bare our testimonies to others, whether on the street or in a lesson or at a dinner, and through that we can feel we are doing the Lord's work here. Sometimes it takes humility and trust to have that assurance, but I know when I try my best to follow the Savior He is proud of me, and with me. It takes a lot of humility to keep diligently doing the small things, but the small things add up and that is how the Lord accomplishes His work. I trust that.

I hope everyone had a happy new year. As I reflect on my 2016 I am over filled with gratitude. This past year has changed my heart. I've spent every moment of everyday in the service of the Savior. Not only have I learned a lot about myself in the process, but I have learned so much more of who my Savior is- in a very personal, in depth way. It has been much more than just learning who the scriptures tell me He is, I have had my own personal experiences to teach me of His loving character. Him and I have created our own story together. Some of those experiences have been some of the hardest in my life, but I can truly testify that it is exactly those times that brought me closest to Christ. In my weakest moments where I feel I have not much else left in me, I am at the greatest capacity to feel the Savior's healing love. Our struggles have the potential to bind us to the Savior. I feel like every time I use the atonement to console, strengthen, or forgive myself I get to know the Savior a little deeper. It makes me think of Ether 12:27 from the Book of Mormon, "And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." I know we all have a perfect loving Heavenly Father. He is so aware of each of us, and has a plan for us. He gives us weakness to draw us unto Him. I am grateful for my weaknesses and trials that have helped me have a more authentic and meaning experience with Jesus Christ and His atonement. He is my perfect friend. My weaknesses have also helped me connect more deeply to those I am teaching, to have more empathy and compassion towards them. I hope to in 2017 continue to trust and allow my weakness to draw me closer to the Savior, and give me greater capacity to connect with others around me.

all my love,
Sister Eleanor Neeley

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Find Yourself in Christmas This Year

January 2nd, 2017

Happy New Years!!

The week leading up to Christmas was so exciting for us! We had some great lessons with Lesley and her whole family was there for one of them- and it went really well this time. They are getting closer with us and more comfortable, we have all become friends. That is something we have been praying for a lot, so it was faith building to see that happen. We are helping her find her own testimony and answers for herself as she tries to come to church and read the Book of Mormon. In God's timing she will be able to receive that witness from the Spirit for herself, and in the meantime we are trying to help her all we can. We also got to teach that referral from last week, Washington. We brought a member from the ward with us and it was a great experience for us all. He is such a cool guy. He has a really open heart. He knows some members of the church and is anxious to find out the why behind their lifestyle. He has heard so many things about our church through other people and sources, and wants to find out for himself. The more he finds that he had some wrong judgments, the more he wants to know. We can't come back to teach him again until after all the holidays, but we are excited to get to know him more. It was another answer to our prayers here in Mountain House. 

Christmas day in Mountain House with Sister Kitahara was so special to me. We got up and opened our stockings that mom sent me last year. We have had them hanging all month and have been dropping little things in each others so that we had a surprise for Christmas morning in them. It was really fun for us. We then opened the packages that our families sent. I made Sister Kitahara an American breakfast of cinnamon french toast, haha I don't know if it is actually american but our family always has it. It was her first time having it and she really loved it. We had a beautiful church service, and we both got to participate in the choir and Sister Kitahara accompanied with piano a violin duet I played in. After that we went to the senior center and gave the residents there a Christmas church service with the rest of our district. We read about the birth of Jesus Christ to them out of Luke and sang songs in between the verses that matched with what was going on in the story at that time. It was really special and the spirit was sweet. We got to have lunch and visit with them afterwards. Most of them didn't get to go anywhere for Christmas so they were very happy to see us, and we were happy to see them as well. I then of course got to have a Christmas dinner with a family from the ward here, the wagstaffs, and video call my family! It was a special Christmas to me, I got to share my testimony of Jesus Christ in so many ways throughout the day. 

One question asked in my video call was what are my last transfer goals, and that really weighed on me afterwards, so I prayed about it and want to share them with you guys. They aren't like necessarily "new" things to me, but things I want to focus on to help me work hard with meaning to the last minute. 1-Don't miss an opportunity to talk to someone and share my testimony with them, especially on the street in between places. 2-If I get caught up with things about going home, sing a hymn, say a prayer, or ask my companion a spiritual question. 3- Every single day do something out of my way to lift someone else's burdens. 4- Every single day intentionally say something positive and truthful to someone to help build them up. 5-Finish Jesus the Christ. 6-Every single night ask myself what is something I did good that day and something I specifically need to do better the next day. 7-Just try my best everyday, and be patient with myself. So there they are, my goals for the next few weeks. There are things I worry about, some bigger and some very minor and insignificant, but I trust as I just focus on Jesus Christ, and lose myself in Him, those worries will be worked out in His time. If I dwell on them myself and try to take care of them my own, the answers won't be found. Jesus taught, "He that findeth his life shall lose it, and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it" (Matthew 10/39). It seems counter intuitive, how can I find myself and my answers by completely forgetting about me and serving the Savior? But it is the Savior's promise to each of us, and it is true. I never have felt more like myself, than when I am living the way Jesus would have me live. I trust that who Christ wants me to be is much better than who I can be on my own terms, and so I will lose myself in His name. I can't think of a better scripture and desire to bring in this new year. Happy New Years!

all my love,
Sister Eleanor Neeley

Christmas Pictures

December 26th, 2016

Our Tongan Grandma in the ward - she always makes sure we are fed!

My companion - she is so sweet!

Sister Talbot at the Christmas Devotional 

Sister Beteiti at the Christmas Devotional 

My best bud Elder Lopiano at the Christmas Devotional
(We both go home next transfer in the same group)

Sister Kithara and I

Christmas Morning! 

The family matching Christmas PJs - they sent me some, too!!

Merry Christmas!!

December 19th, 2016

Merry Christmas!

God's plan for the Mountain House area continues to keep rolling on, not always (usually) in the way that I hoped for, but I feel such a special spirit witness to me that I am apart of something bigger than I am aware of here. I know that Heavenly Father works by small and simple means, and I am grateful and humbled that He trusts me and Sister Kitahara to have to patience, endurance, and faith to help those small things happen. This week we got back in touch with the Japanese Couple from awhile ago. It is always fun to see Sister Kitahara be able to speak her native language with people. They made us Japanese lunch and I can now say I officially mastered chopsticks! Sister Kitahara always eats with them even at the apartment, and I have been trying to as well. I finally have it down haha. They are Buddhist and we had such a powerful lesson about how every religion has truth in it. We were able to teach them the plan of salvation and help them recognize similar truths between the plan and what they believe. They have been brought up believing in reincarnation which has so much truth to it- like that the point of this life is to progress and grow, that what we do here in this life matters, that we lived before we were here on earth, and so much more. It was a really cool lesson and we all felt the spirit testify of truth in it. We also got a referral from some other missionaries this week which was such a miracle! It is this cute little family from Kenya. They have lived in Salt Lake City before and have been to the temple there, and also have been to the San Diego temple. They said they love the temples and feel drawn to them. We are going back to teach them on Wednesday, we are very anxious and excited. Another miracle was that we got reconnected with a woman from our ward who we haven't seen for awhile. Her husband and daughter are not members, and they are in a tough place. She told us they are looking for some kind of change to help their family as they all grow and was interested in coming back to church. We are excited to keep close with them and help them find some more peace, through Jesus Christ. 

This week we served at the senior center memory care facility again, and it was (as always) such a powerful part of my week. On Sunday I got an early Christmas gift. I was sitting in relief society and someone came and got me telling me that a couple was asking for me outside. I had no idea who it could be. As Sister Kitahara and I came out, it was Trisha and Robert from the Ripon ward!! They came to stop by really quick and give us a little Christmas gift. It was so sweet of them, I felt so loved and special. I am so grateful for their friendship and their loving hearts. I was so surprised and it was such a tender mercy to me. I love them!

I am following along with the Light the World still and it continues to pull me closer and closer to Jesus Christ. I feel like I am getting to know Him better each day by focusing on His personal attributes. On the 13th this week the topic was Jesus Christ showed humility and so can you. Trying to learn more about this, I was lead to study the three accounts in the New Testament of when Jesus Christ was in the garden of Gethsemane and praying to God to let the cup pass (Matt 26, Mark 14, & Luke 22). It was such a powerful study, and I really recommend it for everyone. I was really inspired how Jesus Christ had so much humility to willingly to go through any trial the Father would give Him- even the most agonizing trial the world has and will ever know- because Jesus trusted that Heavenly Father's will is always for our best interest. That Heavenly Father loves us with a perfect love and that He will not have us suffer things that are not for our growth and happiness ahead. That is a really hard pill to swallow, it takes humility. It takes a lot of humility to trust that Heavenly Father's will is a better path than our own. I feel like it is especially hard when what we pray for, and want in life, is a really righteous desire- and our prayers are so sincere, but we don't get it. We don't get the answer we hoped for, we don't get the relief we prayed for. But we can be like Jesus Christ and trust that Heavenly Father's plan is bigger than what we can see with our understanding. I felt Heavenly Father's love so strong as I read. I know He is aware of me and each of us. I know He cares about our suffering, and that He has a plan for each of us. I trust that plan, even in the hard times when I don't understand. I am so grateful for Jesus Christ who walks with me when I do have to go through something hard, and for His perfect example of humility and trust. 

all my love,
Sister Eleanor Neeley

Christmas Party Miracles

December 12th, 2016

We had so many miracles this week in Mountain House, it was a really great week. We got to teach a lot more than our usual weeks. We had our Christmas party Saturday so we were working extra hard to contact and invite everyone we are teaching (or have taught) and all those families who don't come very often. Particularly we saw miracles with Lesley this week. She still is not supported from her husband about getting baptized, but really made some strides this week in her personal testimony. She started making time everyday to read the Book of Mormon and ever since she is starting to feel the promised peace and strength in her life. She came to our ward Christmas party with her kids and had a great time, the ward was so welcoming to them. That was the biggest thing for her family, everyone made them feel so comfortable and loved. I know it made all the difference. Our ward Christmas party had a really great turn out over all, not only did Lesley come but a lot of families we don't see very often. We had dinner all together, then a short program where we watched the Bible video of Christ's birth, had the little kids sing to us, then a short Christmas message from our Bishop. It was a really spiritual, as well as fun, event for everyone. One really special part of the night was that we had a service project going where we collected donations of towels and blankets for the homeless in the area, and on Friday we are delivering them to the shelter. A lot of people showed up just to help contribute to this project, and ended up staying for dinner as well. It was overwhelming to see how much everyone was willing to give to those who have nothing. Then on Sunday, Lesley came to church with her kids for the first time and really felt something special. Her kids loved singing I am a child of God, they are adorable. It was so exciting to have her there with us, I felt like every lesson was just for her and I am sure she felt the same way. It was a really big step of faith for her to come and I know she is feeling the promised blessings from it. 

Another highlight of my week was that I got to do service at the senior center in the memory care facility (those with dementia and alzheimers) with the others elders in the area. This week we sang hymns to them for a while, and then visited in small groups after. The spirit was so sweet as we sang the hymns, and a lot of the workers there listening were moved to tears. Everyone who walked by stopped to listen. I have this one friend Stella who is a resident there that I love to visit with and when we have to leave she always cries and it is really touching to me. She makes me promise I will be back and has me write down the day and time for her. The nurses say she keeps the post it on her mirror to help her remember. I love doing service there, especially in the memory care facility. It is so refreshing to my heart to serve there. Because of this experience no matter where I am, I want to always seek out these types of opportunities. I feel like I always get more than I give.

So despite my bike breaking this week and us having to walk everywhere, it was such a great week. I know the Lord has so much in store for Mountain House and I want to do all I can to help bring it forth. 

So a scripture that really hit me this week I found while studying the Light the World daily teachings from the Savior (everyone should check it out if you haven't already, not too late). It was in John 6:23-25, "Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.". It just really made me reflect and ponder. There are so many material or superficial things that are "supposed" to make us happy in this life (the perfect job-home-car, being that perfect weight, going on the most cool trips etc), but at least in my experience I feel like it is just a never ending race. Although these aren't bad things in themselves to have, when I focused my happiness, heart and soul on them I felt like I was endlessly trying to fill myself up with things that would only disappear leaving me feeling empty again. In contrast, when I do my best to focus my happiness on Jesus Christ (just do my best to- I am not perfect at this whatsoever) it never leaves me feeling empty. It gives my happiness actual substance. I feel stability and love. I just have a simple testimony that when we focus our heart on Jesus Christ we can find that happiness that never leaves us wanting more. And as I read this scripture as I took the sacrament this past Sunday, it gave it a totally new meaning to me. Every week I can come ready to re commit myself to Jesus Christ by partaking of the sacrament and partake of the happiness He has in store for me. He is the bread of life. 

all my love, 
sister neeley

Light the World this Christmas Season, and in all Seasons...

November 28th, 2016

Hey! Hope everyone's thanksgiving was great.

Thanksgiving was a great day for us. We were able to have a wonderful thanksgiving dinner with one of the families in the ward, and then after go to several different homes to share messages about Jesus Christ and gratitude. It was a special way for me to spend my thanksgiving, I was truly able to focus on others and feel the spirit super strong as I heard so many inspiring stories from those we talked to of being thankful and having gratitude in hard circumstances all because of Jesus Christ.

This week we had a zone breakfast at the stake president's home as well and it was really awesome. I got to see all the missionaries which is always exciting, but also we all got a lot of council on how to work with our wards better so it was a great part of my week. I have served in this zone my whole mission thus far so I know the stake presidency pretty well by now, working with them closely is always a great part of serving here. 

We are still teaching Lesley, and things continue to get better and better with her. She is really opening up to us, and starting to make changes that allow her to be closer to Jesus Christ. It is exciting to be apart of. Other than her, our lessons are much less solid right now and pretty infrequent. We talk to people everyday though and have many meaningful conversations that invite the spirit. We always wish we could be teaching more, but we are grateful for the opportunities that are blessed with, and have faith there are more to come as we keep working hard. It has been colder and colder here and rainy. Winter season has officially come. It can get pretty cold at night as we bike, especially when the delta breeze comes in from the bay area so we had to break out the gloves this week and tights! 

Something I am so excited and passionate about this Christmas season I want everyone to know about is the church's new Christmas initiative called LIGHT the World. Every year the church comes out with a Christmas video, but this year it is something extra special. So if you go onto you will find the main video at the top  ( to introduce the special event a little. And under it there are the days of December in boxes. On each day of December leading up to Christmas, a different teaching of Jesus Christ is highlighted. And with that teaching there are suggested ways on how to implement that in your own life in simple ways. It is a wonderful way for anyone, of any religion, with faith in Jesus Christ to really get back to the purest of His teachings- or just anyone who wants to make the world a little brighter. Some of the days are like this, "Jesus honored His parents and so can you" or "Jesus fed the hungry and so can you" and "Jesus showed compassion and so can you". The website is so beautiful and powerful, I really would encourage everyone to visit it and also participate- and invite everyone else to do so as well! I know that as we follow along and implement the pure teachings of our Savior Jesus Christ this Christmas season, we can feel His love in our live more fully and shine His light to others much farther than before. I love how the scriptures talk about Jesus as being a light to the world, and one that can never be darkened. He is the light and hope of my world. When things start to seem dark due to my own mistakes or weaknesses or just life getting hard, I can look to Him and His light and have hope that if I keep walking to the light, things will get better. There really is no darkness to deep that Jesus Christ's light can not reach. I love that with this video and website, others can start to feel that way in their own life.

I love you and hope you have a great week.

all my love,

sister eleanor neeley

My favorite district ever!

Thanksgiving with Palm Trees

Thanksgiving Selfie

Be Grateful for what Matters Most

November 21st, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

We had our transfer calls this week and sister Kitahara and I are both staying in Mountain House together. I was pretty surprised about not having any change, but I feel a lot of peace. I know I am needed here still. And I am really happy to spend the holidays with this ward, they feel like family to me. I will be taken care of very well here! This week it started to get pretty cold here (well...CA like 50's and 60's) but I have definitely acclimated to the weather here so now I am freezing along with all the other california people. It has been rainy too this week. It is nice to have the weather change, it finally feels like fall a little more. 

On sunday I got to perform in a violin duet at church. We played one of my favorite songs, Come Thou Font Of Every Blessing, and it went really well. We played through it maybe only two or three times together before performing it, but it really sounded beautiful. The arrangement of the piece was very nice. It felt good to play again. I think they want me to play again for Christmas since now I know I will be here for it.

This week was full of small miracles, good things are continuing to happen here. The biggest being Lesley. Our lessons with Lesley went so well this week. We really saw a change in her, and a desire to really commit to trying. We thought for sure she was coming to church, but she never showed up. That was sad because she would have been so strengthened by the messages shared. She still has some things holding her back, but she said she wanted to set the goal of December 17th for her baptism. The spirit was so strong as we talked about it, and I was able to bear my testimony that when we set goals with God, He always prepares the way for us if we are willing to keep walking. 

Another blessing to our week was that we got involved doing service in the community here. There is a senior living center in town that we got in contact with and they are always begging for volunteers to do a variety of different things. They warmly accepted our invitation to serve. On tuesday we got to do a little worship service for the memory care facility, along with one of our ward members. We talked about and sang songs about Jesus Christ. It was very basic, all about Jesus and how He loves us and cares for us. The residents in the memory care facility are not fully aware of what is going on most the time, but you could feel the spirit in the room and see it in their faces. Residents who never talk or participate started to do so and all of the workers were amazed. It is a great place to do service because we get to help the residents, but also work with and make a good impact on all the workers and families of the residents who are around. We went back thursday and visited with the memory care facility for a little. The spirit I feel as I serve there is so sweet and touching to me, it brings me to tears a lot. We are so excited to keep serving there. And I am excited for this new transfer here in Mountain House, I know this where the Lord needs me right now.

I love this thanksgiving season. I have been pondering what matter most to me, my Heavenly Father who knows and loves me perfectly, His son Jesus Christ who is my literal Savior and best friend in all times, my family and those I love who I get to be with forever because of Heavenly Father's loving plan. And I am so grateful for the words of Christ that allow me to follow that plan. The words of Christ, if we let them and live them, will "carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise" (Alma 37/44-47). Earlier in the Book of Mormon, the word of God is compared to an iron rod that we need to hold onto as we walk the path back to Christ. In sorrow or sin or trial or any challenge, our view of life can get pretty dark, like a vale over our eyes. But if we hold onto the words of Christ, we will be led to safety, even if we can't see the path ahead. If we cling to it with all our might, and hand over hand, as we walk never let go, we can not fail. We can not fall. We can not be lead astray. It is when we let go and try to navigate the darkness ourselves, we get lost and disoriented. And yet even still when that happens, Christ comes to us where we are and personally walks us back if allow Him to. The words of Christ are my source of hope and light. It can get dark, but I won't get lost if I always hold onto Him and His word.

I hope you have a great Thanksgiving, and get to take time to ponder what matters most to you this week.

all my love,
Sister Eleanor Neeley

All Who Will Ask

November 14th, 2016


Our teaching is coming along. We met with Lesly this week twice, but both times ended up being a bad time for a lesson but it was good to still see her and talk with her. We will teach her more this week. This week we met with Lindy but she did not have time to read yet. It was still a good meeting though! We took a member from our ward with us who is also a working single mom her age, going to nursing school at night and they really connected. They were like instant best friends and want to hangout and everything. It was such a blessing to have that because now Lindy has another person she can count on for support and that can encourage her. Our other investigator Monique decided she is just not wanting or ready to make any changes right now with was really sad for us to hear because we love her so much. But we are still friends and will drop by to see her. We really trust in the Lord's timing of it all.

We had a little miracle though this week! We were street contacting in central park here and found this woman Lita, and it turns out she is actually a member already. She was baptized five years ago but had some things happen and she hasn't gone recently. She lives with some family in town. We ended up talking with her for over an hour. She was so sweet, and so in need of the healing and comforting power of the atonement of Jesus Christ. We were laughing at times and crying at times together. I know Heavenly Father sent us to Lita because He loves her and is so aware of her situation. He knows each of His children and desires to bless them. We are excited to get her moved into and connected with the ward here. Also to start meeting with her. She was especially excited to come to our church open house we are having this friday. My mission district is made up of three different wards of missionaries, and we all share the same building for church. So together we are planning a church open house/tour. It is just a more comfortable way to help people see what we are all about, and what our church building is like. We are having members at different stations like primary, youth programs, relief society, family history, the baptismal font room, the chapel and even one station on the church provided 12 step addiction recovery program that we have at our building each week. We are all so excited for it and it has really brought a lot of unity to my district and a special spirit. We are preparing so hard for and praying for a great turn out. 

This week I have been pondering how can I and those I help and love have a better access to Christ's strength and healing. I have realized more and more that we have as much access as we choose to have. In Alma 33/23 it talks about letting the words of Christ be planted in our heart like a seed, and by our faith letting it grow. It goes onto say that, "...and then may God grant unto you that your burdens may be light, through the joy of his son. And even all this can ye do, if ye will." If ye will. We can have Christ's strength in our life if we will- if we choose so. He can not force it on us, but He does wait anxiously ready to carry us at a moment's notice. I have learned about, sung about, Jesus and His power to do miracles since before I can remember. I've read His stories, I've heard the testimonies of others about it. But when it is my turn, and I am down to end of my rope in the midst of a trail, how can that power be a reality to me? Do I really believe He can and will lift me, right now where I am? I do believe. And because I believe and ask Him, He is there. He doesn't always (usually) take away my trail but He is there for it with me. And He is there for you through yours too, if you invite Him to do so. He died for each of us. He loves each of us, personally and individually. I am so grateful that Jesus Christ lives, that He leads this church through priesthood power and revelation, that His miracles never cease, and that His love is available to all who will humbly and faithfully ask.

I love you so much, have a happy week!

all my love,
Sister Eleanor Neeley

Turning Outward

November 7th, 2016


This week was a very busy week for us. On tuesday we had a meeting for all the trainers and their new missionaries (missionaries in the first 12 weeks of their mission) all the way in Modesto. We do not have a car, and we are the only sisters in this side of the zone so we had to get a member from our ward to drive us there. We were really stressing about it, I always feel terrible asking for rides to meetings- I know everyone is so busy with their families. And it is an hour there and back, plus the three hour meeting, so we just were in a pickle for a few days trying to find someone who had the time to help. We have become very close with one of the less active sisters in the ward and when she heard our need she quickly volunteered to drive us there. It was such a blessing in so many ways. She ended up bringing another less active sister from the ward with us, and we all got lunch after. It turned out to be such a strengthening day for everyone. We also had exchanges this week. I left the area and worked in the YSA ward. It was fun to be back, I served there a few months ago. I got to teach Ashley, one of my investigators who got baptized, a new member lesson and it was so good to see her again and how much she has grown. She is the girl who just walked into the church one sunday asking to be taught with all the missionary pamphlets in hand already. I felt very grateful for the exchange.
The work is still moving forward here. We had little bit of a hard time meeting for lessons with Monique, Lindy, and Lesly but this coming week we have set appointments with each of them already so we are very excited. We did get to teach Lesly this past week though. We taught her about the plan of salvation and the spirit was very strong. She has some deaths in her family that are very close to her and that are pretty recent and painful to talk about, so as we taught more about God's plan for each of us- even those who have passed away- she was filled with hope and peace. We are going to finish teaching her that lesson this coming week. Good things are continuing to happen here, we have had a lot of new families move into the ward and we meet people everyday on the street who ask us lots of great questions. 
One very exciting thing that happened is that on sunday Trisha and Robert, who got baptized when I was in the Ripon ward, found me at my ward here in Mountain House and stayed for church with me. I was so surprised! As soon as I saw them walk in I was beaming! It was such a tender mercy to see them again, I have really missed them both. Catching up with them really made my week extra special. They are very special to me and my very good friends. Another cool thing that happened was that the ward asked Sister Kitahara and I to perform together in three sundays at church. I will play the violin and sister Kitahara will play the piano. We are still working on what we should play, but we are very excited. It motivated us to also plan a piece to play together at the mission christmas devotional in next month. I love that I have gotten opportunities to play my violin while on my mission to help others feel the Spirit. 

It has been a very powerful experience to me lately as I have been reading through the New Testament. This week as I was reading at the end of Romans, and I was really touched about his council to the saints there and how they should treat one another and support one another as disciples of Christ. I love in Romans 15/1 when he says "we then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak..". I pondered on the many times before and on my mission when I have been grateful for people who have picked me up when I was weak and bore with me my trial. They didn't have to do that, but because they love the Savior and because they love me they were willing to help me lift the unliftable. And I am so grateful for all the experiences I have here on my mission as I see the members of the church and just other loving hearts who continually bear up the weak. What has been truly changing for me to see though, is when certain people (whom in many aspects are the ones who I would consider are in need of the strong to help them) reaching out to help those around them, just as Christ did. Even when Christ was suffering, He still turned outward to those around him in love. What a truly Christ like attribute, turning outward even when everything in you is screaming to turn inward. Those examples have meant everything to me and have caused me ponder where that kind of strength comes from- because certainly it does not come from anything earthly. I love in the Book of Mormon in Alma 26/12 where Ammon teaches us that " to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself but of my God, for in his strength I can do all things..". And again we are taught that in Philippians 4/12 from the Bible, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me". That kind of strength comes from the Savior and no other source.We can all find the strength to turn outward even in our lowest of places, and be able to do anything that the Lords asks of us as we rely on Him with our whole soul. We can always be strong no matter what our earthly circumstance is because the Savior is an everlasting source of strength for us that we always can have access to, if we choose. He has felt and overcome, for each and every one of us individually, everything we could possibly feel in this life. I pray and and try everyday to develop that kind of strength, to be more like the Savior no matter what my situation may look like, always turning outward looking for someone who needs love. I really do have a testimony that the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ brings us closer to that strength than any other way possible, because of the God's priesthood power being brought back to the earth again. 

Have a happy and a safe week!

all my love,
sister eleanor neeley

Happy Halloween!

October 31st, 2016


The weather has been rainy and chilly here this week, which is good as always because of the drought. The rain here though is nothing compared to the rain in PA. We don't get thunderstorms or down pours at all out here. Which I am grateful for because we only have bikes. This week was probably our most exciting week here in Mountain House. A lot of things finally came together and we were able to teach a lot of people. We are teaching the wife of an inactive member and she is so awesome. We love the Funkhousers. We got to teach her twice this past week and each time the spirit was really strong. She really is looking for spiritual structure to have for her kids as they grow up and spiritual healing for herself, as we all are. She didn't make it to church like we were all planning but we are excited to keep getting to know her and love her more. We also were able to catch up with Lindy this week! We met her tracking a few weeks ago and were finally able to sit down with her. She is such a sweet person, so busy with being a single mom, work, and going back to school for nursing but she has so much faith. Both are reading the Book of Mormon right now and praying about it to ask God if is really is His word so we are really happy. We were also able to teach a few first lessons to some different people who decided they weren't really interested, but it was a great start to help prepare their hearts to accept Jesus Christ's Gospel later down the road in their lives. We kept our heads up. One lady was so kind to us, she just moved here from India and had a little difficulty speaking english with us but the spirit was there strong. We were able to talk about all the similarities from her Hindu religion and Jesus Christ's restored Gospel. We all felt uplifted and more connected to one another after the lesson, it was a great experience for me. 

We got to do some service this week too. We helped out Monique who we have been teaching with fixing some things in her house with her. She is really dedicated to running marathons and travels all over to do different races and this past week we were all just working away and she made the comment about why she doesn't commit herself to Christ like she does with her marathons. It really opened up for a great conversation and one we have been praying to have. We are excited to keep teaching her this week as that new question is pondering in her heart. And we also got to help a family move that I knew last year when I was here! They are just moving to another house with in Mountain House. We actually taught them a little last year my very first transfer but lost contact after a while. It was very exciting to get back in touch with them. We aren't teaching them or anything, but we are continuing to build our friendship and serve each other. They are just the sweetest family and we really love them. We helped them move for a few hours and then they overheard our dinner appointment fell thru so they cooked this really great dinner for us just to be so kind. So this week was filled with great opportunities for us and we are so grateful for such a powerful week. 

I have really relied on prayer more than I ever have in my life as I have been on my mission, and particularly the past few weeks. I think I am understanding just the beginning of how powerful it can be. A quote by President Uchtdorf  that always comes to my mind about prayer is, "He who created the stars- knows you...& and He knows your name." That truth is life changing to me and all those I get to share it with. The title "Heavenly Father" has caused me to really ponder lately, what does that mean to me? And for me, it means that I have a Father in Heaven that loves me with a perfect love. He created me and just like any father would want, He wants to hear from me often. He cares about what I care about and He hurts when I hurt. He wants me to be happy and come to Him for help with my problems. I can't count the times I have knelt down to pray with a heavy heart and got up feeling a little bit more lighter- or at least more hopeful that I will feel lighter all in His time. A favorite verse of mine from the Book Mormon says, "...look unto God with firmness of mind, and pray unto him with exceeding faith, and he will console you in your afflictions, and he will plead your cause...oh all ye that are pure in heart, lift up your heads and receive the pleasing word of God, and feast upon his love; for ye may, if your minds are firm, forever (Jacob 3:1-2). He really will console us in our afflictions, and He really does plead our cause if we only will lift our heads up to Him in prayer. I can never be grateful enough for the power of prayer in my life, and I hope I can always do things to increase my sacred relationship with my Father in Heaven.

Happy Halloween and have a great week!

all my love,
sister eleanor neeley

He Makes us More than we Could Imagine

October 24th, 2016


We were able to teach the Japanese couple this week. They took us out for lunch to an authentic japanese place in town, they didn't really even speak english there. Luckily I was with three fluent japanese people haha.We were able to listen to their trials and concerns and see how we could apply the Gospel to their lives. We really love them and hope they will want to learn more from us. Other than that this week we found a couple people who said we could come back and share more, and one of them even set a specific day and time with us. We are having some good teaching opportunities, we are just trying to start connecting them together more and helping people start progressing towards Christ more fully. 

Something interesting is that Mountain House gets really into Halloween! Their decorations are so creepy! There are multiple houses that have "haunt walks" and scary music playing at night. We hate walking by those houses when it is dark! We decided to put up some of the tiny christmas decorations we have in our apartment, it makes us feel happy haha. Sister Kitahara is from Japan and all the scary halloween decorations are new to her and she is not a fan of them. It is really cool to learn all the cultural differences and similarities. 

This week I was studying in Alma chapter 7. It is such a powerful chapter about Jesus Christ and I always feel the spirit so strong when I read it. When Jesus Christ suffered for each one of us in the garden, is was not just for our sins and mistakes- although that most definitely was a part of it. In verses 11 and 12 it tells us that Christ suffered our afflictions and pains and sicknesses of every kind, every single kind. And because of that, Christ is able to strengthen us in time of sin but also in any difficult time we face. He felt exactly what we feel and He knows how to help us out of it. When we turn to Jesus Christ we can be so much more than we would be by ourselves. He provides us specific and individual tutoring on how to navigate our trails. He has already overcome everything we face, so as we ask Him for help he will show us the way. One of my favorite quotes is by Neil F. Marriot and it says "He takes us as we are and makes us more than we ever imagined." I find so much hope in that, in Jesus Christ. I can face anything, overcome anything, with His loving help which is always near. I just need to ask Him for it. I am especially grateful this week for the Book of Mormon and what a powerful witness of Jesus Christ that it is. I know that Joseph Smith was lead by God in translating those scared words, and that he really was a prophet that restored Jesus Christ's church in full purity onto the earth again. And I just finished the Gospels of the New Testament and I have such a testimony that God works through prophets and apostles who receive His directions, and He always has. Joseph Smith being called as a prophet again in these latter days is not an isolated event, but rather a continuation of such a loving pattern from God. God loves us and so He sends us prophets with His authority and power to guide us. I loved reading the Gospels in the New Testament, I could see so clearly that the Church Christ set up is how the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is set up today. His Gospel has been restored, and I am grateful for all the scriptures that truly testify of that. 

Have a great week!

all my love, 
sister eleanor neeley

Refiner's Fire

October 17th, 2016


This week it started to rain for the first time in a long time. I was good though because we are still in a drought and need it. We had to bike in it though this weekend which isn't my favorite activity haha, we are in an all biking area, but it is what it is. It is getter a bit cooler with the rain so that is nice change. I miss having four seasons. I feel like there are two here, hot or rainy. 
We had more than a few canceled appointments this week but we are still pushing along! We met some people who invited us back while tracking so we are excited to see where that goes this coming week.

This past weekend we got to help out with a really cool service project in Stockton. It was an event where dentists from all over the area came and volunteered to fix the teeth of those who don't have the means to do it. Lines and lines of people waited for hours for the event, a lot of them were homeless. It was a really special experience. We got to talk to the people in the line and get to know their stories, it was really touching. They were short interpreters so I got to help out with the spanish some which was so scary but really awesome. There was this one lady who didn't speak english sitting by herself by the line and was having a hard time. No one could understand what she was doing so I went to help her and we ended up talking for awhile. She has just moved here from Mexico two months ago and couldn't find her sister who was getting dental work done. She was so patient and kind with my spanish and kept encouraging me to keep trying. I helped her find her sister and I was able to get her involved with the free english class in stockton that the spanish missionaries teach each week. The event was really amazing and there were so many volunteers helping. 

This week as I have been thinking and studying, Mosiah 24:15-16 has really meant so much to me. Alma in these verses is such an example to me of how to handle trails, or just anything doesn't go according to "our plan". He accepts the burdens and trails placed in his path, and just trusts that God is taking care of him. He is able to be joyful in his trial because he knows that God will strengthen him to get through anything. I came across a quote from last conference by Elder Hallestrom which really went along with all that I am learning about this. He said, "When difficult things occur in our lives what is our immediate response? Is it confusion or doubt or spiritual withdraw? Is it a blow to our faith? Do we blame God or others for our circumstances? Or is our first response to remember who we are- that we are children of a loving God? Is that coupled with an absolute trust that He allows earthly suffering because He knows it will bless us, like a refiners fire, to become like Him and to gain our eternal inheritance?" That is probably the biggest lesson I am learning on my mission, is to trust it all to God, everything, no matter what my circumstance. To trust that I am in the hands of a loving Heavenly Father who does nothing save it is for my own personal benefit. I am truly increasing my testimony of the refiners fire, meaning that I know sometimes in order to be who God needs me to be I, and everyone around me, will have to pass through things that melt us down, hammer us out, twist and bend us. But that through it all we will be something of much greater strength and beauty. I hope I can be like Alma, and help those I am teaching to be like Alma, as we all face the burdens and trials of life together.

all my love,
sister eleanor neeley

Where the Healing Begins

October 10th, 2016

Konnichiwa!! That is hello in Japanese! I

I got my transfer call last night, I can't believe this transfer is already done. It keeps getting faster and faster for me. So for this transfer I am staying in Mountain House and continuing to train sister Kitahara. I am really happy to be here still and I know great things are ahead of us. I love sister Kitahara so much, I am learning so much from her. She is a really great and loving companion. She works really hard and just at the perfect moment she can be so hilarious. She told me this week whenever we have a rough day she just thinks about the movie Jurassic park, and is filled with gratitude at least she isn't there hahaha. She is great, I love working with her and in this ward.

Just a little reminder and shout out, November 10th is Anthony's birthday! It's almost here already! 22! So send a letter or little something his way to make his day special, it takes awhile for letters and things to get there so you will need to send it SO soon to get it there in time!! It will really make him happy to get lots of birthday wishes and love, so everyone send him something :) His address is,

Elder Anthony James DiNuzzo
Indonesia Jakarta Mission
Jalan Senopati 115
Kebayoran Baru
Jakarta 12190

This week was a pretty good week for us. It is getting a little colder here (meaning it is not in the 100s anymore...well not usually at least haha). We got to watch the movie Meet the Mormons with one of our investigators Monique this week at a member's house. It went really well, it helped her see a little bit more of how worldwide our church is and how it helps people all over the world in many different circumstances. The spirit was really strong and the conversation we all had after was helpful for her. Side note, my favorite story from it was the man from Nepal. It was so special and very timely for me to see how people all over the world can embrace the Gospel of Jesus Christ and still have their own unique culture. Nepal seems very beautiful, I would love to go do humanitarian projects there some day. This week was also Yvonne's baptism!!! It was so special!! I talked on Baptism at it and Sister Kitahara talked on the gift of the Holy Ghost. Both talks went really well. The highlight was Yvonne's testimony after she got baptized, the Spirit was so strong. She is such an amazing person and I feel so blessed to know her and be her friend. Our whole district was there at the baptism and between the six of us we all together found, taught, and helped Yvonne reach baptism. It was our district baptism and it brought a lot of love and unity to our district. We were all really happy to hear that this transfer we are all staying so our district won't change! We are slowly working with Laticia still, and as we taught her this week she commented how what we are teaching sounds so familiar to her, and it just sounds right. She hasn't read the book of mormon yet but she sees and more importantly feels how this really is Jesus Christ's church on the earth again. We are excited to keep teaching her. 

A highlight of my week was that an inactive member came to church this week for the first time in a long time. I was close with her when I was here last year and all my months away I have kept her close to my heart and in my prayers. She is just one of those people I feel like I really connect with and understand, and my heart has always gone out to her in her situation. That morning I felt particularly prompted to pray for this sister, and as I got to church I just knew I needed to save her a seat by me in the back where she could see me easily. Just a few minutes into sacrament meeting she walked in and took her seat next to me and I felt the spirit so strong. It was fast and testimony meeting that sunday at our ward and my heart was just burning, I had to go up and share my testimony. As I sat back down by her she held my hand so tight. I know I am here in Mountain House again for many different reasons, but in that moment the Spirit spoke to me so clearly and powerfully and let me know this was one of them. I was just beaming all day long, I haven't had a day where I felt the Spirit so strong in a while. Nothing makes me more happy than seeing others, especially those whom I personally know and love, accept the help the Savior is always and anxiously trying to give. And to see the ward just love and accept her the whole day touched and taught my heart in a really special way. 

With that experience fresh in my heart and other specific similar ones I had throughout the week, as I was studying the Book of Mormon a verse really stood out to me. In Mosiah 15 verse 9 it speaks about the compassion Jesus Christ has for each of us. And how He is "standing betwixt us and justice". He is our Advocate. He is our Redeemer. When we make mistakes in life, little ones and the ones that seem to crush our very being, He is there if we let Him take the burden off us. He can take the pain away. I felt the Savoir's love and compassion in so many ways and through so many people this week. I know He lives and I know that when we come to Him, He will take the pain from us and we will be healed.

all my love,
Sister Neeley

Yvonne's Baptism

Sister Kithara and I living' it up!

Sister Kithara and I outside our casita

Group Hug!