Monday, June 22, 2015

Happy Endings

Yeah, I know that this is still not my last blog letter but I feel like so many things are currently coming to an end that it’s just appropriate.  In this week we will be receiving a new mission president! As of this week I will only have one more friend from freshman year who is still on a mission.  As of this week I am officially a “valiant” missionary.  As of this week I am now one of the oldest sisters in the mission (time wise) and the next in line for “death”.  As of this week everything just got way too real! I think the greatest thing is that one of the assistants to the president will also be going home with me, so every time we see each other he asks, "como esta....muerto?" (How are you, Dead One) and it’s really funny.  Last week at our food appointment, Elder Estrada (the AP) was shaking my comp’s hand and she goes, "Ewwww, Elder did you forget to shower this morning?! Because you smell like death!" HAHAHA gosh my comps such a fireball! (Editor’s note: for those of you who don’t know, missionaries jokingly refer to all aspects of their mission time with terms of life. Their first are is where they are “born.” Their trainer is their “parent.” And when it’s time to go home they are “dying.”)

Happy ending number 1: I think President was trying to make me the happiest missionary every when he moved me to this area because I’ve had the joy of sending off two groups of valiants.  When Garcia’s group was all gathering in the offices to go to Presidents house for the final dinner, I was there waiting for the AP to show us how to get to food.  So naturally I got to spend like 30 minutes just loving her! And just last week all the valiants were coming back into the offices.  I knew what day they were coming and had saved up a ton of reasons to pass by the offices that day...and all of them fell through because the elders were like, "We got it under control!" But Heavenly Father had my back.  The Hermana that it touched to give us food had just given us money so I had to drop the money off for the elders.  I snuck right into the offices and found out that I had to pick up a few sisters also to take to my house.  I was upstairs and everyone else was down stairs and stressed about flight plans so I didn’t want to enter and cause chaos....but let’s be honest, yes I did!!! I sent a messenger (Elder Estrada) to tell Ferb that I was upstairs and she hit me so hard that we almost fell over and took my companion out all at the same time! I haven’t bawled saying goodbye to anyone recently (because everyone’s going to be really close to Utah really soon), but I instantly started crying! I haven’t seen her in like a year so it was the best reunion/farewell ever where we just couldn’t stop hugging! Naturally Skinner came running too and joined in on the intense hug, which made me laugh really really hard! There were so many people to say goodbye to and I love them all so much that I can’t truly accept that they’re gone! Every single one of the 25 were like my older siblings because they have literally been here since I started the mission, a lot of them were trainers of people from my generation, I’ve served with all of them, and almost all the elders have been my zone leaders or district leaders! Some of them I don’t even know that well, I’ve just heard of them because they’re legends, and I was surprised to find that they knew me! We were in the offices for a good hour and a half.....and we ate real triple chocolate cake!!!!!!!!! I have been so blessed to serve with the most amazing people ever and make the greatest friends!

Happy ending number 2:  I found out a ton of joyful surprises this week while I was with the valiants this week that had a huge impact on me.  I feel like the mission just tries to remind us over and over and over again that we will never truly know the impact that we have on people.  Truly the seeds we plant will be harvested and I’ve had the blessing in my mission to see these seeds be harvested! If you go back in my emails to about exactly a year ago, you’ll find the story of Alberto, a man we contacted late one night in a cambi.  We only said about three things to him, (Here’s a card, the church’s direction, and when we meet), but he felt the spirit and came to church the next day as a complete surprise.  We began teaching him and discovered that he smoked about 40 cigarettes it was something really hard for him to overcome.  Three weeks later, both Ferb and I left the area.  We heard that the other sisters dropped him really fast cause they didn’t think he was going to progress.  Ferb and I were truly sad because we had always felt that one day he would be a stake president due to his ability to feel the spirit! Well the night that I got to see Ferb again she told me the greatest of news, Alberto had been baptized three weeks ago!!!!!!!! I started crying all over again, happier than happy that the Lord had truly never given up on him.  Five seconds later, Elder Matos walked up to shake my hand and was super excited to tell me news.  "Hermana, do you remember the family in the corner store in Chilpo?? The ones that you gave a Book of Mormon too and basically taught all the lessons to by just gifting them folletos everytime you passed by??" "of course I remember them!" "Well they’re getting baptized soon! They want to tell you thank you for all you tried to do for them!" WOW, was really all I could say and the best part is that that is only the beginning to all the amazing things I’ve recently heard!

Truly we are instruments in the Lords hands every day.  There are times when I get angry because I didn’t have anyone I contacted that day accept an appointment to return.  There are days when I feel like I haven’t accomplished a whole lot, but those are the days when I’m focusing on my own success and not on the success of others.  As true instruments of the Lord, we talk to everyone to make them aware of this great message we share.  We share this message with everyone to help them see how much the Lord wants to guide and bless their lives.  And we share it with all of our hearts so they can see the blessings.  We share and we share and we invite and we share all day long, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after half a year.  The number of people we talk to is uncountable, but the work we do truly changes lives and the lives that we touch are even more difficult to count. I’m so grateful for the opportunity that I have had to see so many seeds bloom into gorgeous flowers and to see the spirit of the Lord touch the hearts of the people that we meet.  One of the greatest parts of missionary work is the mark that we leave behind.  It may be in a month, it might be in a year, it might even be in 10 years, but the Lord will make sure that our seeds were not planted in vain and that one day, every person will have the chance to accept this glad tiding and learn the truth! There is no greater work!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Familiar Faces, Amazing Places

First off thank you for the Christmas package Frontenac ward!!! Loved every letter and I’ll keep them forever!

These past two weeks have been like an old comp rehash and I just can’t get over how much I love my companions! On Sunday morning our doorbell rang and I knew it could only be one person, GARIE! We hugged it up, like seriously don’t think we stopped hugging, and laughed for way too short a time and then she was gone! Two days later Hna Sturt was in my house and we were happy as two larks.  The next day Hna Hernandez was sleeping with us and we were happy all night and just trying to make every second count in the little time that we had....because we might never see each other again :( (yeah the Familia Neu was separated two weeks ago when Hernandez and her comp were emergency transferred to Chilpo). And today I topped it off with a visit with Chynoweth and Skinner.  All I lack is the beautiful face of Ferb! BOY HAVE I BEEN BLESSED!!!! Like more than I could ever imagine! Great friends, great times :)

I wanted to write an odd to the family Garcia to put here as a thank you for just how amazing they have been in the course of the last week.  On Saturday I received a phone call from a voice I instantly recognized.  Apparently President Kusch had given the Garcia family permission to kidnap me for the night and to do whatever, with the tag line, "I trust you guys." So we went to dinner, but better than anything I just got to spend more time with GARIE +her amazing family and hear all about things in Chilpo and in real life! AND THERE WAS NOTHING LIKE THE MIRACLES SHE TOLD ME!!!! When we were together in Chilpancingo we had been teaching two cousins who were our ages and they were the most amazing people ever.  Adi had gone to church three weeks in a row and was reading the Book of Mormon.  She just couldn’t get over how good she felt every time we came and how perfect our timing was when we first found them.  When we left Chilpo it was really hard to leave them, but we had faith that we would soon see their faces in the baptism video that we get to watch every three months.  Well while Garie was walking along the beaches in some city south of Acapulco, she ran into Adi who had recently moved there for work!!! Talk about small world! She hadn’t been to church after we left because the elders had only passed by once and it was really awkward.  But the Lord put her in Garcia’s path and now once again she’s meeting with the missionaries! Truly the Lord is mindful of all of us, AND he doesn’t give up on anyone until they have returned to Him!

So that was the Garcia/Neu miracle of the week (that and that everyone remembered me in Chilpo and were quite confused why I wasn’t there with Garcia).  But there were also an incredible number of miracles that went down in our area this week.  Last week we hit rock bottom; 0 investigators, 0 con fecha, and 1 in church who is an eternal investigator so it didn’t really count.  I was mad at the world, but I tried to take a daily dosage of humility pills and just see what the Lord had to offer us.  Because we didn’t have anyone to teach we just rolled up our sleeves and went to work talking to anyone we could find.  The Lord not only answered, He gave double! I think the greatest example is that of Lucio, an old man of 75 that we had just started teaching.  He was quitting smoking really really really well until the day we found him on a street corner smoking a whole box because he had just found out that he was getting thrown in jail for something he hadn’t done and there was nothing he could do about it.  We were crushed because finding him had been such a miracle! Well we saw him in the street this week and he had the greatest news, HE WASNT GOING TO JAIL ANYMORE, for once justice had come through and the real criminal was going to jail.  Well more than ever he was ready to progress.  It’s been a miracle in itself that he has been able to progress even a little bit because he can’t read and his comprehension level is about that of a 12 year old.  We use a lot of pictures as we teach him to help him remember things.  This week we talked it over and felt impressed that we needed to give him a Book of Mormon and invite him to read it.....yup a Book of Mormon to the guy who doesn’t know how to read.  We taught him a small chunk of the first lesson and then I promised him that if he had faith in the Lord, He would open up the means that Lucio could read it.  We came back two days later to the biggest miracle of my mission! Lucio simply said, "I know it’s all true!" We were a little confused, "You know what’s true?" "I know the whole Joseph Smith story is true!" We were blown away because we hadn’t even talked about Joseph Smith yet so we calmly asked him how he knew.  Turns out he had read the lesson one pamphlet 4 times in preparation for our visit because we always ask so many questions and he wanted to be able to answer them for once.  The man, who doesn’t know how to read, read the pamphlet four whole times AND got an answer! That’s what I call a miracle!

"Thou hast seen and heard all this; and will ye not declare them?...All ye, assemble yourselves, and hear; who among them hath declared these things unto them? The Lord hath loved him; yea, and he will fulfil his word which he hath declared by them" 1 Nephi 20:6, 14

The Lord fulfills our promises.  He puts power to our words.  I’m here to declare this message because I know He is here supporting me no matter what!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Smell the Coffee

I think the greatest blessing about being a missionary is the continual confirmation that "whom the Lord calls, He qualifies. That doesn’t mean that you’re the only one who could do it right.  At times you might think others could possibly do it better, but more than anything the Lord knows that you can do it the right way, HIS WAY, and that’s why He wanted you and only you! I think it’s also important to remember that "whom the Lord loves, He chastens" and sometimes the chastening makes you feel like you’re crawling through the dark and all alone instead of following His glorious light.  If there is something I learned this week (a rather hard one), is that there is a reason for all things and though the answer won’t always come at this exact moment or right when we need to know that there is still hope, we will ALWAYS have a chance to feel the power of God’s love.  We will always have a chance to feel His blessings and power in our lives and it’s those tender mercies that make us strong during the greatest/most difficult times in our lives.  One of my favorite quotes (I believe it’s from Pres. Eyring’s talk, “Mountains to Climb”) says, "With faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the hardest along with the happiest of times can be seen as a blessing" (see the talk for a better quotation). As President Kusch would say, ADELANTE CON VALOR (and I would add, with faith in Christ)!!!!!

We got a call about Elder Perry passing away Saturday night, it was really shocking cause I didn’t think he would be the next one even if he was 92.  I for sure remember that night in SLC when I mistook him for Bro Hillemeyer in our ward, it was actually the first thing I said to my companion when we found out.  Pretty funny!  I’m feeling that Elder Rasband will be the next called.  He has like over 10 years as a member of the presidency of the seventy, but I know who ever the Lord calls will be the right person and will just be amazing!

In one of Sunday's talks a woman told a story of a chef whose daughter came to him complaining of too much stress and too much suffering. He didn't say anything, but took her into the kitchen where he began to boil water in three pots. In the first he put some carrots, in the second an egg, and in the third some coffee beans. After a few minutes his daughter became impatient and asked what it all meant. He showed her the carrots and how they had become soft. He cracked the egg and it was now firm from the boiling. And he had her sip and smell from the third pot. He then explained that we can respond in one of three ways when things get difficult and the water starts to boil.  We can shrink and become soft like the carrots although we were strong and firm to begin with. We can let our tender hearts become stiff and unchangeable like the egg, or we can release the best of ourselves and make use of the trial to make something and everything around us better. I thought it was a good analogy and should be taken for its meaning. Unfortunately, a couple of members thought that it was bad to make coffee a positive thing in an analogy. Oh well, I think you understand the point.  I will try my hardest to not endorse coffee haha.  But it was an extremely hard week and I have to say that I might have let myself become an egg, but a letter from Hna Garcia about how much of a difference we made in Chilpo made me realize that I want that same change here.  I want my area to be its own branch so members can get to church always and just have a super strong community and so many more opportunities to share the gospel.  I’m gonna become coffee!!!!!!!!! ;)

Love to all,

Hermana Neuberger