Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Gautita and avocados 1.26.15


How is everyone doing? I am surely missing you all, but loving life! 

I am not sure where to start from this week. But i learned A LOT. 

First. We went and visited a less-active. Rosa Andrango. She is the type of less active that you honestly feel like will never progress. We went to visit her this week and i am ashamed to admit that i had the WRONG mindset.  I wanted to have 8 lessons this day with Hermana Bahr and we had the goal.  If we wanted to reach the goal we had to have a really quick lesson with Rosa.  We walked in and a bunch of her nephews came in and we were kind of just sitting there and talking for awhile. I was feeling super stressed because i knew that the lesson we were about to have with Rosa would be the same as it always is (which is us talking and her NOT listening.)  But as we talked with her about regular things, i could see her start to open up to us.  When we finally started the lesson, she told us why she hasnt been coming to church.  We really gained her confidence and we were able to help her.  After that lesson i felt ashamed.  I was so so concerned in my numbers for that day that i wasnt really willing to sacrifice a little bit of my time to just simply listen to someone who was needing it.  If we had simply thrown a lesson in her face, she never would have told us what the true reason for not coming to church was.

Second.  Ok so i really had to go to the bathroom.  I was seriously dying because as you all know my bladder isnt exactly large (ok sorry, maybe TMI).  So we ran into a members house to use the bathroom really quick.  After we went we could obviously see that the member (hermana Salazar) was really sad.  Again, we wanted to have another lesson, or in other words, better numbers.  But we decided to sit down and talk with her.  She talked with us and told us that her grandkids were moving to Spain and she doesnt know when she will see them again.  She was sobbing.  We gave her some words of comfort and then i asked her if we could say a prayer with her, to give her comfort.  After, there was a noticable difference.  She was happier.  We didnt recieve references from her or anything, but we helped her to feel better.  

I realized from these two experiences, that sometimes the best gift and service that we can give others is OUR TIME. Missionary work isnt about numbers.  It is about LOVING and HELPING those that the Lord places in your pathway. This week i encourage you all to talk a deep breath and look around for someone that needs your help.  And then help them. 

Something hard.  We went to visit Christian this week and he told us that he had really missed us.  This kid loves talking about the Word of God and he LOVES the Book of Mormon.  He keeps all the commandments, and he loves God.  But there is something in him that is keeping him from getting baptized.  We explained to him this week that baptism is a commandment and something that is necessary for salvation.  He told us that he completely understands that, but that he just doesnt want to do it.  WHAT??? As we were explaining every thing to him, we could feel the spirit. It was testifying to us that Christian is a really special person.  We told him that.  The spirit was working in him, but in the end he still refused.... and the spirit left.  He told us that he is never going to be baptized.  I was so so mad at him at first. I could not believe that after all the blessings, love, and answers that God had given him, he STILL would not act.  But i learned from this that lots of times the Spirit works in every one of us, but we simply do not listen.  And when He is too tired to keep working, he leaves.  I hope that we will keep our focus on the right things, so that when the Spirit whispers, we hear.

Now i have a big shout out to my big sis Paige for something she wrote to me in her recent letter.  She talked to me about how we all have desires, but sometimes our actions dont reflect our desires.  I have a lot of desires.  I want to be a really hard-working and obedient missionary.  I want to be patient and loving and kind.  I want to serve the Lord with all my heart, might, mind, and strength.  But sometimes i wonder if my actions reflect my desires. I would like to believe so. But i cant help wondering, is there something more that I can be doing to be better?  My goal is to make my actions in line with my desires.  Always.  I am grateful that i still have 13 months left in my mission to improve on this.... and a lifetime after that! 
Something super happy that happened this week.  We are visiting a family from the coast.  And they gave us 5 GIANT avocados.  Am i in heaven? YES. And we ate this dish ceviche de camaron which was so so GOOD!! We found them this week and i almost didnt talk to them (because i sort of thought they looked like the type of people that wouldnt be too interested)... but i remember that i should talk with EVERYONE because who am i to judge? so we talked to them.  And it turned out that there brother that lives with them is a less active! They are so awesome! 

Oh i almost forgot!  FAMILIA SABANDO IS DOING SO GREAT!  They are getting baptized in two weeks.  I LOVE THEM WITH ALL MY HEART.  I dont think i want this transfer to ever end.  I love life. 
And i love you all so much!  
hermana neff 

Oh and i ate guatita (aka cow stomach) and i actually really liked it! Who knew? 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Rain 1.19.15

This week.  Where do i start??

First off HAPPY BIRTHDAY PAIGE! In like 3 days i think.... I hope you have a wonderful day!

So this week started off really great, and ended really great.

We went Tuesday and visited la familia sabando.  We were a little nervous for this lesson because we were going to teach tithing.  So we got there and we started the lesson off by asking Joconda if she had any idea what tithing was.  ANd then for the next probably half hour she explained what tithing was, how it had blessed her life, and how she would ALWAYS pay her tithing.  We literally didnt have to teach anything.  Ramone was a little hesitant but they all promised to keep the law of tithing!  BOO YAH!

Then later in the week it was pouring rain and it was freezing.  We went to visit Maria and Enrique.  We were casually sitting waiting to talk with them when Enrique runs in and sprays us with this soapy water stuff.  We were already soaked from the rain, but he just made it worse.  So then he walked out for a second and when he returned i got him back!  Hermana Bahr and i were dying of laughter.

It rained a lot this week.  Which made it a little bit harder to work.  The weather here is weird.  Because in the morning the sun is so so strong and so so hot- so we never bring our rain jackets.  But then in the evening it POURS!! So we are learning to just always have our rain jackets... even though sometimes it doesnt seem like it will rain!

SOmething hard that happened.  Christian was talking to us about how he doesnt like church because people are always on their phones etc.  Well, we some brought some members with us to the next lesson to try and help him. Without saying too much, they got a little defensive and really offended Christian.  ANd now he doesnt want to talk to us.  We are praying that his heart will be softened.  I learned from this experience that lots of times when people not of our faith attack our beliefs, our immediate response is to defend ourselves.  As a missionary i have learned that although we should always stand up for what we know is right, we should do it with love, understanding, and pacience.  Because our words can really hurt someone if we are not careful.

OKAY SO NOW THE MIRACLE.  FAMILIA SABANDO ACCEPTED A DATE FOR BAPTISM!!!!!  I am so so so so so so so happppppppyyyy!!  They are getting baptized the 7th of Feb.  Right before this transfer ends.  So we are praying praying praying that their date wont fall, and that we will be able to see their baptism!  It is SUCH a blessing to know this family.  I love them with my whole entire heart!  I honeslty cant imagine my life not knowing them.

Hermana Bahr and I are loving this transfer.  We always talk about how we dont want it to end because we get along SO WELL!  We had the opportunity to meet with President Christensen this week which was so great as well.

SOrry i know i am all over the place.  I just love my life!  Oh i almost forgot, today we went to Teleferico and we were up so so so high in the mountains and it was foggy and we couldnt see two feet in front of us!  But it was super fun!
Ok that is all!

have a happy week!
hermana neff

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

thousands of emotions: 1.12.15

Thank you for all the letters and packages i have received in this last month from ward members, family members, and friends.  I LOVE YOU ALL!! 

This week has been wonderful and hard and stressful and happy and i think i have maybe experienced every single emotion there is.  So here we go.  

It started on Monday.  We went to the house of the Flia Rosero.  This is a family of 5 and 4 of them are converts.  We have been visiting them since my first week in Los Chillos.  Galo (the father) recently stopped going to church because of some things that happened in his life.  We have been working a lot with him, but also with his son Christian.  Christian is 19 years old and the first time we talked with him about the gospel he told us that he didnt believe in God.  Well over these last 3 months we have visited this family and done everything we can to help them stay strong in the church.  As we have visited them, we have noticed that Christian always answers questions and participates.We have watched his interest, faith and desire growing. So last Monday we decided to teach him the Restoration.  As we were teaching i felt really strongly that we should have a mini testimony meeting with this family.  As every single one of them testified of how they knew the church was true i felt the spirit so strongly.   I told them that they were a wonderful, strong family.  And then i turned to Christian and i told him that every single one of his family members recieved an answer, but in different ways.  I started to tell him that he would receive an answer as well when he stopped me and said. "but i already received my answer."  In that moment my heart was FILLED WITH JOY!  He told us that earlier that day he was playing on the computer, and all of the sudden it shut off.  He told us that before he knew it he had picked up the Book of Mormon and started reading it. And he knows that it is true.  When we visited him later this week, he told us that he had a desire to take the Book of Mormon to school with him and he didnt know why.  He told us that since he started reading he hasnt had a desire to make wrong choices.  This was a testimony to me.  That GOD changes the hearts of people.  And that he loves me enough to let me see how HE works in the lives of others.  AND THAT THE BOOK OF MORMON IS TRUE!! 

Something funny now.  Well two funny things.  First in mini zone conference I had to get up on a table and teach the first lesson with all the other missionaries yelling super rude things at me.... it was an exercise to help us overcome our fears, but i pretty much just laughed the whole time.... 
THEN.  Ok i was pretty mad about this one.  We were talking with Maria and Enrique.  And Enrique LOVES to bother me.  So i wasnt looking at them and all of the sudden Enrique started freaking out and pointing to my backpack.  So of course i scream and throw my backpack across the room (thinking that there was a giant spider or something) and everyone BURST OUT LAUGHING!  He had thrown a fake rat on my backpack to scare me and i hadnt seen it.  When i turned around to sit back down he had put it on my chair and i screamed again.  And they laughed, again.  i was not too happy about it, but i got over it and now it is super funny.  

What was hard about this week.  The Familia Savando was super excited about their baptism and everything.  But then Kevin talked with his cousin and she told him some things that changed his mind.  Now he doesnt want to get baptized and his family doesnt want to get baptized without him.  I was pretty sad after he told us that.  But i havent lost faith.   Because i have seem God work miracles in the hearts of people and i know that he will work in Kevin.  

Sometimes this work is so so hard.  Sometimes i feel so frusterated, but when i think about how much i love these people here.... every single moment (good and bad) is absolutely worth it.  I love my life!! 
Today we went to the Baslica again.  I think Quito is the most beautiful place on earth.  The country of Ecuador literally has everything. Volcanos, jungle, mountains, the beach (which sadly i will never know)... And Quito has a European feel which I love!  I really just love this country.  And i love my life. Hermana Bahr and i are having so much fun together in this transfer and it is going by too fast!! 

Well i love you humans with all my heart!  Look for the little miracles in your lives this week, and i promise you will find them.  

Hermana Neff 

Monday, January 5, 2015

Ponder the path of thy feet: 1.5.15


This week has been interesting but great!

I am loving being with Hermana Bahr.  We are constantly laughing!  We are the only gringas in our zone and we are companions.  One of the Elders calls us the "asistentas." She only has two tranfers more than me in the mission, so we are learning A LOT and 100% enjoying every moment!  
On Wednesday we couldnt leave our house because all the men here dress up as "viudas" or widows or disgusting women and beg for money. It is quite frankly horrifying.  So we dont leave the house this day!  We watched church videos all day and really just bonded!  And then we went to bed early (at like 9).  Which was smart on our part because at 11 pm a drunk man (our neighbor on the first floor) started singing kareoke into a micraphone.  And do you know what hour he stopped? 8AM!!!!!  I am not sure how he didnt loose his voice or faint or something because he literally didnt stop the WHOLE NIGHT.  We hardly slept but i guess that is what happens when you live in Ecuador!  

The next day we were contacting and it was getting late.  It was a little bit dangerous because it was a Holiday.  Well we were walking around in the dark and this man pulled up next to us and told us to get into his car because it was dangerous and he didnt want something bad to happen to us.  We explained that we cant be in a car with just one man but that we would be ok.  He kept insisting and finally said, "i will drive along side of you and protect you"  So he literally drove along side us the WHOLE WAY!  We ended up teaching his family the first lesson and passing the reference to the Elders that work in his area.  It was a blessing to know that the Lord was watching out for us! 

Today we went to Quito and explored El Mercado!  I love the things of Ecuador!  There are millions of scrunchies and sweaters here my two favorite things in all the world. I LOVE ECUADOR!!! 
But more than the counrty, i love the people.  The Family Savando is praying right now to know if they should get baptized the 17th of January  or later.  I wish i could describe to you all just how much i love this family.  Everytime i am with them my heart is competely filled with love and hope for them.  Everytime i get back to the house at night i thank my Heavenly Father for giving me the opportunity to know them and love them.  I cant imagine my life not knowing them, and frankly i dont want to. 
God loves his children.  He loves each one of you.  And i know He loves me so so much for giving me the opportunity to be a missionary.  I know he doesnt need me here.  He could do all the things that i am going to do in my mission without me.  but I need to be here. Because I need to learn. And i need to grow. I love being a missionary!  It is interesting because even though i am far from all of you, and tired all the time, and in a country super different from my own... i am HAPPY! And i love my life.  I often reflect on the talk President Monson gave in the most recent general conference.  And the scripture he shared from Proverbs.  "Ponder the path of thy feet." The path i walk every day isnt always easy, but i feel happy.  And i know i feel happy because i am serving others as a true represantative of Jesus Christ.  And i am doing what he would do if he were here.  We should all take a moment to "ponder the path of our feet." To really evaluate if we are going everything that The Lord expects of us, and if we arent... let us make a change! 

I love you all with all my heart.  
Hermana Neff