Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A Rainy Winter, But Never Happier

January 23, 2017

This winter has been one of the most rainy for this part of California. We are getting poured on lately. All this week we got rain. We have flash flood warnings in our area, but I think we are safe from what I hear. It is mostly the bay area (over the hills from us) that is getting most the flooding. The rain here is different than the rain storms back in PA though, no thunder or lightening ever and it doesn't ever really come down as hard. It has made things interesting for us this week, but we are happy for the rain. They have been praying for it.
Last Monday we got to go to Big Trees Calaveras State Park! It was so beautiful. It is a huge forest of redwood trees up in the hills north of us. There was a ton of snow there which was cool to see, I have only seen snow three times on my mission- and each time it was when I visited Big Trees. A lot of the path was blocked off because this huge, famous redwood tree fell down in the storm the previous week, but there was still a lot to see and do. The tree that fell down was the redwood with a cutout in the bottom so big that a car could drive through it. It was massive to see all in pile on the ground, we were allowed to hike up to it. We went with Robert and Trisha, one of the couples I taught in Ripon, and it was so nice to be with them again. The day trip was so so fun, but visiting with them was my highlight. I love them! 

This week was pretty exciting for us. Were were able to get back in touch after a few weeks with two of people that we taught before. We had a great lesson with Washington in the beginning of the week. He is from Kenya and just so open to hearing more. He hadn't really done any reading over the holidays, but will now that things calmed down for him. We also got to teach Lindy again, and her and I really get along. I love lessons with her, she is such an example to me of having faith even when life turns out not the way we have hoped. She loves her kids more than anything and is dedicated to making a better life for them. Our lesson with her went really well and she is open to meeting again too. Lesley was out of town with her husband this week so we didn't get to teach her, but we went over and taught her older daughter and the grandma who was watching the kids. So that was still a really cool experience to have. Good things are happening all the time, I am so grateful to be serving here.

I am really grateful for the opportunity to help people find hope in Jesus Christ and His Gospel every day. Not much is more heart breaking to me than talking with people who truly think that they are just too far down another path to ever be different. People who have been carrying heavy, heavy burdens of mistakes and weakness for years and just don't know any other way to live. People who just don't know what value and divine potential they have in them, that they truly are a child of Heavenly Parents who love them so much than they will ever know with a perfect, unfailing love. On the opposite nothing has overwhelmed me with more joy than when I get to help something realize the truth that because of Jesus Christ they can always change and choose a better path. No path is too far from the healing love of Jesus Christ. That they can be free and happy and that they are a valued child of divine, eternal heritage. Pondering this brought to mind some beautiful verses from the Book of Mormon, Alma 5/33-34, "Behold, he sendeth an invitation unto all men, for the arms of mercy are extended towards them, and he saith: Repent, and I will receive you. Yea, he saith: Come unto me and ye shall partake of the fruit of the tree of life; yea, ye shall eat and drink of the bread and the waters of life freely; ".

all my love,
Sister Neeley

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