Saturday, December 25, 2010

December 20th

I got one of your packages. The one with all the music and stuff so you don't need to worry about that any more. The rest, I will probably get in the beginning of January but who knows, with as far away as I am from the mission home we only get mail every so often. I got some letters from some friends at the same time as the package but I need more time to write them back.
First off, I would love to see our house in some magazine, even if it is some girly design magazine. Second, Dont worry too much about the site approval, I know everything will work out just fine with it. Third, KERRI IS GOING TO JERUSALEM!!!! wow, that is really cool. Im going to think about doing that but seeing as I have another three years of school after my mission I would like to do at least one semester back in Gringolandia before I go anywhere else. Also let grandma and grandpa know that I love them and that they need to take care of themselves. (that goes for both sides of the family)
So this past week was fairly normal. We have a family who should be getting baptized this Sunday which would be awesome and we have a lot of people who are feeding us food and food and food for Christmas. They have this fruitcake type thing which is either incredibly awesome or like really bad fruitcake. We will be eating a lot of it this week and Ill just have to hope its the good kind. This week we went and did something called an invasion where all the missionaries from our zone went to one specific sector where the missionaries need some help and work for a few hours which was awesome. We went to the sister´s sector and worked there which was a lot of fun. Also this morning we went up into the mountains to go hiking as a zone and we found a ton of the Chilean tarantulas which are really cool. I have some photos that I will send you the next time I can of some of the cool things Ive seen. (During our hike today, I fell into the river which was embarrassing but it was my fault and, frankly, that is just life for you. Dont worry, everything is fine. I just had to hike with really wet pants). 
So I love you guys and have a very, very Merry Christmas with the Minsons. Talk to you Saturday. 
Con mucho amor,

Elder McNeil

December 15th

So the house is moving forward which is really important and I am glad that Mom knows exactly what to put into my kitchen. Frankly, I don´t mind that I will come home to a different ward because, in all honesty, the other ward really wasn´t "my ward" anyway (just don´t let them read that line). Also thanks for the Top Chef updates, I will definitely have to catch up on it when I get home. 
. One thing I have learned as a missionary is that everyone has thier agency and no matter how much you want them to make the right choice, you can´t make them do anything they aren´t willing to do.
Also about the packages in the mail for me... I LOVE PACKAGES!!!! They are the heroine or crack cocaine for missionaries. I am very excited to get them but like every sort of drug, so please send in moderation (please keep sending but... oh you know what I mean). Also, let me know when my packages gets to yall. Like I said, I sent it from here in San Clemente last week and because of the size of the post office and the fact that that package may have been the first internation package sent from there in a number of years; confirmation that you recieved it would be greatly appreciated. 
So to answer Mom´s question about people just leaving town during the summer. Yes, San Clemente suffers this problem. Although San Clemente is actually a fairly decent size (about the size of 19000 people, maybe a little smaller. it is hard to tell because the population count includes all the pueblitos all the way to Argentina which are all still a part of my area and under the jurisdiction of San Clemente) the population plumets this time of year. It will be even worse after Christmas but, already, there is a significant portion of the population knows me quite well. The work has been going really well here. We are hoping to have 3 baptisms the day after Christmas which would rock. We also had a mission conference this week were we had a Christmas activity and we all got presents from President and Sister Humphrey. Other than that, I have no new news to report. 
Love y´all and I pray that all goes well for you.

Elder McNeil

December 6th

My new companion is named Elder Barajas. His family is from Mexico and... well he was raised in Oregon, so I don`t really get the full latino companion experience again, but he is really awesome and it is actually nice to speak english every once in a while now.
So its starting to feel a lot like Christmas... well, mostly. The chileans are now putting out all the Christmas decorations and they are going out and buying all thier Christmas gifts. I am enjoying this opportunity to see how the Chileans are going to celebrate the Holiday but, frankly, it looks like they have borrowed quite a bit from Gringolandia. I feel bad for the Chilean viejito pascuero (santa claus) because it is way too warm to be wearing that big red coat and with the sliegh might struggle with the lack of snow. Well, I guess we stole Santa from the Germans anyway but they guys in the santa claus suits are struggling with the heat. I`ll let you know when I get your package. Let me know when y`all get mine because it looks like its been a few years since the last time anyone sent an international package from San Clemente (just so you know it cost about 55 dollars if you were going to pay me back for than).
So this week we had a cool service experience. We got to clean the wooden rafters on an adobe house which ment lot of climbing up and over really old wooden beams. That was a cool experience.
I`ll keep Grandma and Grandpa in my prayers and the house as well. So I hope things are going well and I am glad that I am thousands of miles away and I still have a strange talent to impress young women ;). I love you guys and we will talk soon.
Les quiero mucho,

Elder McNeil

Sunday, December 5, 2010

November 29th

Okay, it is so great to hear that San Antonio was a blast for you guys, but it is even better to hear that we are going to go as a whole family in 5 years! I love the idea and we better do it or I will... well, as a missionary, I´ve lost the ability to think of ridiculous threats anymore. But I´ll do something really mean and outrageous. Also, thanks a ton for the pictures. It is great to see that you are all happy and healthy and crazy enough to still take pictures with Santa. One question, How did the food possibly get better?!?! 
To explain my week. I helped a missionary write a series of western novels that he plans on writing in detail after the mission while I learned out to make these cookie things called alfojores which are really tasty and I will have to make them the next time we are all together as a family. I also found a way to find gringo food in San Clemente all year round. There is a family here who´s daughter married a member who actually was a missionary who passed through San Clemente on his mission. They are constantly getting packages of Gringo food and we just happened to pass by at the perfect moment to fill our pockets like greedy little school boys. It was awesome. I got an IQ test from a member of our Branch who is a doctor. He is awesome but everytime he enters a room, he starts diagnosing everyone in the room with diseases. He really likes me and finds me very intelligent and interesting. He really wants me to become a doctor, which I found funny. Also, I got a little thanksgiving lunch with very untraditional turkey and mashed potatoes (the turkey was actually a turkey leg that was sliced into rounds that looked a little bit like filet mengion and the mashed potatoes had chili paste mixed in). It was a good lunch and afterwards I taught the family how to make those little handprint turkeys that little kids always make in school in the states. Also we had a surprise baptism. I say surprise baptism because we never actually thought that we would baptism this woman. She is named Adelaida, she is 71 years old, has 13 kids, more than 70 grandkids, and some other rediculous number of great-grand kids. She is the mom of Margarita, a recent convert, and the first time we passed by was as a favor for Margarita but three weeks later we had her in the baptismal font. It caught everyone by surprise but it was an incredible experience working with her.
So tomorrow, we have transfers and my companion is leaving to go even further north. I dont actually remember the name of who will be my new companion but President Humphrey sent me an email letting me know that he is really excited about our new companionship. I am really excited too, but I feel like I am under a lot of pressure to show to the branch here in San Clemente that they can trust me and that I am more than just another gringo who was trained here in but that I really am a hardworking missionary. 
Y´all are incredible and hope everything is going well. 
Con mucho amor ,
Elder McNeil

November 22nd

To clarify the confusion about the temperature. Concepción is on the coast and is actually quite a bit like San Francisco in weather. San Clemente and Talca where I´m at is about 4ish hours north and east of Concepción and has weather similar to the Central Valley and Sacramento. I hope that made sense and it is hot!!!

Well I´m sorry that everyone is sick. Like always, I´ll keep yall in my prayers (and the house too). Yeah, and we were not involved in the Ice Cream fight to clarify that story too. Also, I´m glad that Harry Potter was fun but I am really grateful that I will see it all in one sitting instead of having to break it up. So I actually don´t have a lot of time so I am going to keep this short.

I had a special new missionary training in Concepción this week which was really great to see the southern part of the mission, which is gorgeous and working in a new area is always fun for me. We also learned a ton. I have an amazing mission president and his wife is incredible as well. We went to the mission home and for two days they had training sessions and then we went out with some missionaries to actually use what we learned which was a lot of fun. I also got to eat salad with ranch dressing which was incredible. I also received the scripture cases I bought. I like them a lot... but they spelled  my name wrong which I thought was funny. I´m going to write them an email and fix the situation because I already paid and all.

So I was invited to a recent convert´s house for a thanksgiving lunch. I am really excited for that. Also, in the package you send me, can you send me some good scripture markers. Enjoy your time in San Antonio and watching real football. And I´ll hear from yall in a week.
Love ,
Elder McNeil

Sunday, November 21, 2010

What Elder McNeil wakes up to every day!

Dog biting Elder McNeil

November 15th

To answer your question, fasting in 95 degree weather and not drinking water and walking around outside in a place where air conditioning doesn't exsist makes fasting hard during the summer here.
This week was interesting. Two of our best investigators surprised us by moving, one to Talca where the Stake center is, and the other to Santiago. Basically, we are still stuck in what I am going to call the PFV (Purpetual Finding Vortex) because that is still the only thing we can do. Well we do have one progressing investigator who should be getting baptized in a week or two but we need to find a lot more people to teach which is hard in San Clemente because everyone leaves for the summer to work so about 1 in every 8 houses still has people living in them during this time of year. Yeah, but things are going well, My companion and I are getting along (we probably don't have much more time together so we are trying to make this time count) and I have a special "new missionary training" in Concepcion Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday which I find interesting. I can actually get to know a little bit of Conce for the first time since I`ve gotten here. Oh I also got my visa so I am legal here in Chile (not that I wasn't before, but I now have the piece of paper that says I can be here)
So I started teaching English which is a lot of fun and we already have about 16 students. We were also invited to a meeting of the Jehovah`s Witnesses and Elder Quiñones sat in on a meeting for about 30 minutes which was definitely interesting. They are easily some of the most avid bible scholars out there and it was actually a cool experience. Also this week, we witnessed an ice cream fight in the home of a member. This woman was letting her 6 year old daughter eat from the ice cream tub and out of nowhere, she just shoved her daughter`s face into the ice cream and it continued from that until the entire family had chocolate ice cream covering their faces. So that was my week. I hope y`all enjoy the new Harry Potter movie and enjoy everything.

Elder McNeil

November 8th

THE GIANTS WON THE WORLD SERIES!!!! Wow, that just made my week!! Well, that isn´t entirely true. What made my week is we now have progressing investigators for the first time in almost a month. That is what really made my week rock but really things were just great this week. We are still focusing in finding but we are actually finding some really great people (not that the people we were finding before weren´t great, they just dont want to actually do anything). We now have a pool of people that actually want to progress which is great, but because it rained on sunday we still need to wait like a month before we can get any baptisms out of our efforts (Chileans don´t go to church if its raining). And Mom to answer your concern, yes things are hard, but I am a missionary, that really isn´t surprising that things are hard.
Also thank you for letting me know how Grandma and Grandpa are doing. I pray for them a lot and it is nice knowing that they are being taken care of.  
Finally, I would like dad to change a few things about my facebook because there are members and investigators who want to add me as a friend but cant becasue of the rules i set.
So things are going well. I am happy and healthy and people like me. We actually did a minicambio this week and I was put in a sector with a true greeny (he only has 3ish weeks and very little spanish). That is a testament to how well i´m speaking spanish now. Well, I still have a lot to learn but I am doing very well for myself here in Chile. 
Oh also, fasting during the summer in Chile is hard and very humbling. It made me think about what it means to really sacrifice something. I read a quote I loved once that said "The law of sacrifice was never about taking an animal and sacrificing it on the alter to be burned, but to take the animal in ourself, putting it on the alter, and letting the flames consume it." That is one thing i am still working on but I can feel the changes in me every day. It is a beautifly difficult thing to do, but its a part of being a servant of Christ.

Your littlest Elder,
Elder McNeil

Monday, November 1, 2010

November 1st --> Freinds and Letters

I got letters from Brianne, Sarah, and a few others and I will be writing y´all soon, it just takes a long time for me to get mail and I haven´t forgot about y´all.

Well, I hope the Pasta dinner was fun for y´all and it is awesome that Josh is going to Mozambique and Evan to Colombia. And I have to point out THE GIANTS ARE ONE GAME AWAY FROM WINNING THE WORLD SERIES!!!!!! Keep me updated on that please. That would be so awesome if they won. Also let Ken and Laura know that I absolutely approve of the name and am really excited to have a nephew soon. I hope things go well with the land but it looks like things are promising for the site and I am excited to see what you will do with the land. Feel free to send some pictures of the land so I can see what it is like. Also Josh and Brian are getting home from their missions? By the time I get home they are going to be married with three kids each! Let everyone out there know that I love them and that I hope things are going really well for them.
So I got your package this week. It took a really long time because I am 4 hours away from the mission office so we really only get mail when they bring it to us for conferences or big events. This week we had a special mission conference with Elder Zaballos who is in the area presidency of Chile and was the first Chilean General Authority. That was a lot of fun. So if you send me a package for Christmas, there are a few things I would like to ask for. First, I have been teaching myself piano but a basic piano book or two would be awesome. Second, a simplified hymns hymnbook which you can get at the distribution center would be great. Also chocolate would make me happy because the chocolate here is a little depressing. Also thanks a ton for the cd player and speakers. It is awesome listening to some new music. With you next package feel free to put together cds of anything uplifting, inspirational, or that you feel is missionary appropriate (A little bit of instrumental music would be nice).
So Today is the day of the dead here in Chile but it is nothing like the day of the dead of Mexico. It is very quite and reverent. It is actually quite nice and I like it. This past week we have had few investigators, and even few who want to progress, but lots of good experiences with recent converts so it was still an improvement. I still really want progressing investigators though. We had a lot of rain this week which made the days a lot colder and the work harder but our broken water-heater (Califont) magically started to work so we can now take hot showers. I will admit, I thought I loved the people, my companion, and the work before things got hard but now that things are harder, I have learned that I really need to do a lot more to develop more love to carry me through. Well, things will improve eventually, I just have to keep working at it.
I´m glad things are going well for yall and I hope things are always as great.
Elder McNeil

October 25th

So, primero, we found a lot of people to teaching this week. Sadly, none of them went to church so we still don´t having anyone really "progressing". Hopefully that will change with time and I will absolutely keep you updated when that changes. As far as the cambio we had last week, basically half of our zone is training/ a greeny. We got 4 new missionaries and Elder Quiñones is still the only latino. I thought that was funny. I think this is his last cambio here in San Clemente and if he leaves, we might not have any latinos in the zone of Talca which would be sad. San Clemente (my sector) always has a latino so if he leaves and I get a gringo companion, it will be the first time in like 4 years that there will be two gringos together. Also, I have really seen a lot of people eager for me to teach english and I think I will start in a few weeks but Elder Quiñones will feel a left out a bit but it would be a great way to help us find... meh, we will see.
I am really, really excited for Ken and Laura. The members always ask us how our families are and I always tell them that I am going to be an uncle soon and they get really excited. I am hoping for a boy too but I´ll be super happy either way. I love how Mom is always doing something for the ward. Mom you have got some arts and craft skills out the whazoo. I think you should meet some of the Soc-Soc (this is the abreviation for Sociedad de Socorro, which is the relief society) sisters from San Clemente. Also, THE GIANTS ARE GOING TO THE WORLD SERIES!!!!!!!!! ARE YOU SERIOUS!!! GO GIANTS!!!!
Oh I also heard a rumor that there is an apostle here in South America which hopefully means the groundbreaking for the Concepcion temple, and we have a mission conference this week so... I´ll keep y´all updated.
Elder McNeil

October 17th

Have fun at the pasta dinner in a few weeks. I got an email from Kathy and she and Jack are getting ready for the big night. That made me happy to hear from them. Also I got an email from Ken and Laura and saw the pictures of the house which is (to take a word from Mom´s vocabulary) adorable, and the other big news they had was really exciting too!!!! So you are going to be in a little branch in this new house? Thats actually really cool. It will be nice to get to know everyone really well.
I just completed my first cambio (transfer) and Elder Quiñones and I are still here in San Clemente. Because you asked, the language is coming along really well. Now when I get frustrated when I speak with people, it is because I understand what they are saying. Actaully, that probably sounded dramatic, I really haven´t been frustrated too badly since I´ve been here and when I do, it is usually because I feel like my companion is trying to help too much. He is a great Elder and has really taught me a lot. Actually I lot of our members and investigators want me to start teaching english classes, and I really want to, but I´m a little hesitant because Elder Q doesn´t speak english and I don´t want him to feel left out.
So we where able to get some investigators to Church but only a few. We went from having a really strong teaching pool to an almost non-existant overnight and we have a lot of work to do here in San Clemente. Hopefully we can baptize the daughter of a recent convert this next week or two but everyone else who we had had progressing stopped so we have to get the ball rolling again. We did have an interesting moment when we found out that one of our investigators who actually was progressing really well, was actually an inactive member than lost the memory of her baptism when she got really sick as a teenager. Yeah, we have a lot of work to do but things are going well and I am going to have another 6 weeks with a native spanish speaker which means I am going to have even better spanish before the next transfer ends. Well that is basically my week.
Con Amor,
Elder McNeil

October 10

I am avoiding dogs and if I feel a small earthquake, I always check nearby to see if there are any animals that are a little overly-excited. So I have a lot more to learn here in Chile but I have lots of help from my companions and leaders but if I need to go to the hospital again, I at least know how to get there.
So this past weekend was stake conference which was fun but two weeks in a row that we couldn't get investigators to Church because they couldn't travel the 45 minutes to Talca to get to the stake center. Also today is a holiday so there are a lot of people out of town. So to be completely honest, this past week was a little fome (a spanish word for lame) So basically all of the investigator pool we had when I arrived has been baptized. The other investigators who were progressing have all fallen through so we have been trying to find like crazy. Hopefully this Sunday, we will have some good attendance at church and finally get some of our investigators progressing. We also have a problem with our investigators leaving for months at a time to find work in Santiago or other cities around Chile. Oh, also, one of our investigators ran away from home and we now know who she is living with but cant find the house. That is a really complicated situation and we still arent entirely sure what is going on. Yeah, I heard that BYU was having an off-year and i actually kind of expected UT to be a little off too. It is great to hear that the Giants are doing pretty well.
What has been pretty exciting is the story of the miners here in CHile that should be saved in these next few days. Everyone here is really excited and they are already talking about all the money they are going to make off the movie they are going to make about the story. And i thought you would like the picture of my companion with the ax, and I think that was a one time event but we can never be sure with elder quiñones. Anyway, that was my week.
Love ,
Elder McNeil

Monday, October 4, 2010

Dogs and Drunks

Okay so here are the some of the pictures. I have a lot more but these are the best. The one that I really want to point out is the one of my companion with the ax. Yup, that is what I wake up to in the morning (at 7am because I`m in one of those cool missions where the rules get changed for us). Also in the picture at the baptism, I`m the white one, dressed in white (the black name tag might make it easier to spot which one is me).

First, I would like to congratulate yall on the progress on the house, that is awesome. I hope things continue to work out with it. Also, I would like to thank you for everything you have ever done ever in my life! I really loved both Elder Hollands and President Uchtdorfs talks Saturday morning because it reminded me of yall. You have been a great example of just keeping things focused on what is really important. Conference was a little strange with out yall but us gringos really know how to turn conference into a party. Basically everyone brought food and drinks and we just had a blast watching conference. Unfortunately, my companion had to watch it in spanish but in between sessions he got the chance to feel what it is like to be a norteamericano during conference.
Did i ever mention that I was the only person in my arrival group that got a native companion? It really is a blessing, even if it does make things a heck of a lot harder. Yeah, thinking of hard work, we have need to shift from teaching to finding which is hard work! We are teaching a few good people it is just hard to get them to actually make and keep commitments, but that is just a part of missionary work. Also, when you are trying to find people to teach, you get bit by dogs. Yeah, that was a less than desirable experience but considering all of my adventures overseas, a dog bite seems pretty mild, i just need to get 5 rabies shots over the next month. Really, I am just excited that I have my first "missionary story". My second missionary story happened just a few days later when a very friendly drunk grabbed my hand and wouldn't let go for half an hour. yeah that story i would just need to explain in person so you will just have to wait 21 months to hear the rest. (this week marks the one month anniversery of my arrival in chile!) Yeah, things are going well. the language isnt too bad anymore (people cant tell that i have only a month here in chile which makes me happy) Working with my companion is good but always a little difficult just because it requires a little bit of change and willingness to give by both parties but we are reaching equilibrium. Plus in my interview with the president, he implied we would be together for another transfer which gives us time to become even more awesomer :). Oh also as a zone activity this morning, we played paintball. I love the mission :)

Elder McNeil

Monday, September 27, 2010

Sepember 27th

First, I am really sorry. This morning, we were in a hurry to get to Talca to do some things related to my companions visa (we need to get a new one every year) and I forgot to bring my camera so you will have to wait at least another week for the pictures I was going to email. I was going to wait until I sent the pictures to surprise y`all but this past weekend, we had three baptisms. Three fantastic mujeres named Violeta, Yazna, and Elena. Three weeks, three baptisms. They weren`t people that I contacted but people that I worked with these past few weeks and they really are amazing people. I`ll explain more when I actually send the pictures... hopefully next week I`ll be able to remember. Yeah, once again, I am really sorry about that. Also, yes Dad, loving people is a challenge for us but everyday I am learning to love more. It is hard and I am never going to be a "loving person" but I am learning to love people more and more everyday as i really get to know them.
Also I`ll explain a little bit about my area but more when I actually send the pictures. I am in a town called San Clemente which is close to a city named Talca which is just about two hours south of Santiago (I am closer to Santiago than Concepcion). The town is surrounded by Campo (vineyards, orchards, farms, ranches, etc.) and the people there either work in the campo or in Talca. Talca was hit pretty hard by the earthquake which is unfortunate because it is a cool city but a lot of it was destroyed but in a few years it is going to be really great again. The Branch in San Clemente has about 75 active members and is slowly getting stronger. Also my companion and I get along well, but is just frustrating that I can`t have some gringo backup if I don`t know what I am trying to say, but the branch really thinks my spanish is great especially for only 3 weeks, but don`t worry too much, I am learning how to handle frustration better than ever in my life (I know it isn`t saying much but improvement is improvement). So after the 18 of September which is the chilean independence day (when I ate probably 25 lbs of empanadas and asada) I have been constantly hungry. I am actually starting to get a little concerned because I am always eating. its weird!

I love you and pray for you constantly

Elder McNeil

September 20th

So I just realized that I forgot to bring my camera so I will have to wait another week to send some pictures but they are coming soon and I check often and my camera seems to be working right and pictures hopefully wont be a problem. Thanks for telling me about Bro. Dial. It is unfortunate that he passed away but one of the benefits of the gospel is we really understand the plan of salvation and hopefully faith and hope make it easier for them and their family during this time of grief. Let their family know that I´ll keep them in my prayers.

So I am in the little city of San Clemente and our Bicentennial celebration was very small because everyone made the 20 minute trip to talca for the actually party. Basically all we did was eat and really not a whole lot of anything else. Because Kerri is up in Santiago, she got a lot more freedom to celebrate, here we had just a normal day of work but with little Chilean women flooding us with empanadas which are really, really good. The Chilean food has been good since I´ve been here but because nothing is in season right now (end of winter, beginning of spring) it really has been mostly meat and potatoes. The Asada (grilling) for the bicentenial was also quite good but if you don't eat it right away, it drys out and just becomes jerky.

So I am kind of in a weird zone where things are either really easy or really hard and not anywhere in between. The people here are opening up to me and I am opening up to them and feeling more love but still things are difficult but getting better.
Anyway, I gotta go,
Elder McNeil

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Hello from Chile

I am in the zone of Talca but my area is actually a town about the size of Farmington MN called San Clemente. The town I'm in is surrounded by vineyards and orchards so produce might be from my exact area. Our town has a branch and yesterday there were 77 people at church. My real motivation after seeing that is getting priesthood holders because we cant have a branch of just one huge relief society and primary. So, you knowing me, understand that I am easily frustrated, which is something I'm working on especially with the language, but I am able to communicate with members and investigators which gives me some confidence. Still, its a struggle but its coming.

My companion is a native Spanish speaker. He is from Buenos Aires and knows only a few phrases in ingles. I'm trying to teach him and vice-versa but still, it is difficult to not be able to turn to him for emotional support because he never had to learn the language. Also, pray that I can develop love for the people here. Right now, all the investigators feel like the are Elder Quiñones and not mine. That will change with time and as I work hard to being people to Christ, it will come.

So, Kerri mentioned Ecco and don't freak out that they call this coffee in one of her last letters and I had that exact experience yesterday! I didn't see that email until today and I cracked up laughing. It tastes like burnt water but to be as nice as I can to the members and investigators here, I drink it any. maybe I'll start to like it eventually. Also yesterday, we had sausages for lunch with some members and, believe it or not, a sausage exploded on me. Right as I was trying to spear it with my fork BOOM!!!! That was interesting.
So I have to go do some stuff for my visa so I have to go but I love you and keep praying constantly for me, because I'll need it. But Chile is beautiful and I've found ways to help me out with the language and the work in general.

Elder McNeil

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Last Words From The MTC

August 31st,

Okay so yes I have my travel plans and I'm leaving for the Chile on Monday in the early afternoon. So I DON'T think I'll be able to see Kerri while I'm going through Santiago but I'll see her again soon enough. So other than that, the MTC is still the MTC and the food is giving everyone the same amount of gas. (Apparently I have bowels of steel immune to the food here, I've also only gained a single pound while everyone else in my district has gained multiple). The Spanish is coming along well. I'm no native or anything like that but being in intermediate made things quite a bit easier but also makes it so much easier to justify speaking English more because "we already know enough for now". That can be a little annoying but I'm feeling pretty ready for Chile and I have all of this week to prepare which is gonna be pretty awesome. Yah, I can teach well in Spanish so everything else I'm studying is just everyday kind of things and grammar which most people aren't going to use anyway but is common in the scriptures so I best learn it. So The elders in my district going to spain still don't have thier Visas so the three of them will either be reassigned to another mission or just wait here until they get their visas (which is still up in the air).

In all reality, if it wasn't for the transfers requiring us to wait out the two months here in the MTC all of my teachers said that they would have sent most of us out a few weeks ago but its not their choice now is it. But I'm so excited to leave and finally start teaching real people. I mean, teaching volunteers, teachers, and other missionaries is great but 15 months of not only Provo but of those, 2 months in the MTC, I'm almost more excited to get out of UT than anything else

Yeah, life is exciting and this is going to be my last email before I actually enter the field so my next email will be about my initial experiences in the field so keep an eye out for that but I have no idea when my P-day is going to be or anything like that but i fairly confident that you'll keep an eye out for my email.

Yeah, I'm pumped to leave!!!! Chile is gonna be waiting for me in now under a week!

August 24th

So this past week has definitely been an adventure. My companion, Elder Pericle got his visa so he left for Spain on Saturday. I was so excited to be just a duo there for a second... but Elder Jack and I have gained another companion and we are back to being the eternal Trio, just with a different corner-stone. Our new companion is Elder Fundora, he converted when he was 14 and his dad is from Spain which makes it pretty cool for him to be going there. He is great, but I have realized that I will enter the mission field not having had the experience of working in just a two-some, which kind of annoys me, but meh, I guess I'll just have to learn how to deal with that in the field. In case you're wondering, we didn't get an apostle last week but we did get Elder Gonzalez of the Presidency of the Seventy and he was great. But once again, I have my hopes high that tonight we are going to get our apostle.
Right now I am taking the vaccine for typhoid, which means every other day a take a pill filled with live bacteria. I am glad I'm taking it so I don't have to get sick as often in the field but this vaccine is not the friendliest to the body, so I've been feeling a little but like my insides are trying to become my outsides. (Actually, it isn't that bad, but my little tummy doesn't like it very much)

So it is a little strange being in Provo and knowing that school starts back up at the Y in just a few days. For some reason, I tend to forget that the world keeps spinning while I am here and that just because I'm not at BYU, that doesn't mean they aren't still having classes. Missions do weird things to your perception of time.

August 17th,

We still haven't had an apostle come yet. I am starting to think that they are waiting for some construction to be finished on the bleachers in the gym/auditorium here in the CCM (MTC en espanol) Anyway, last week we had Elder Evans of the Quorum of the Seventies come and he gave a good talk about some changes that are happening in the world of Missionary work. So I'm not sure if they are coming out with a new version of Preach My Gospel or just making some changes to the way the work is being done but I know by the end of my mission, I will be doing things different than Mike and maybe even Kerri did/are.

So I keep trying to look up information on the Concepcion temple and it seems like I can never find any news about it, I am still fairly confident that while I'm there they will break ground for it but I would really love to see at least some significant amount of construction done on it before I leave. The studying here is all very much the same. We speak spanish essentially all of the time and are constantly studying the scriptures. Oh just a random note, i finished reading Jesus the Christ this morning. My goodness, that was a good book, it just took me three weeks to finish it which was longer than I hoped. The other missionaries in my district have referred to me as pensive, wise, and reserved which is probably the first time in my entire life that anyone has called me one of any of those things, which I think is fun.

So my district is now the oldest district in our zone because everyone else left this week. That kind of means we have to set good examples but it also means that people will come to us for help with teaching and Spanish now which makes me happy. I've grown a lot these past six/seven/however many weeks I've been here. And on a side-note, I really want Kerri to meet one of my teachers if after she gets home and wants to ease back into dating. Back to my own personal growth. Yeah, things are going well. I'm teaching in Spanish and really just enjoying the experience. I should be getting my travel plans sometime in the next week or so, and I'll let you know the info and I'll also pass it on to Kerri as well. ( Also a package filled with junk food would be awesome!! (Hint, hint ;) )

August 10th

Okay so I don't know if I'll have time to write Kerri today so let her know that I met a Hermana Bair, who is one of her former companion's little sisters. I'll be sending some pictures soon to prove it! Also I sent her a birthday card a while ago and I really hope she got it. Anyway.
So thanks for the mid-way package! I love being here in the MTC but 9 weeks really is a long time. But now that it is less than a month before I leave I am really excited. I'm still waiting on the pictures I printed off so i could send them to you but once they come, I'll put them in the mail right away. Also thanks for getting my address in the Lakeville ward bulletin, I really wanted to make sure that they got it. It sounds like things back home have been a strange mix of really exciting, fun, and stressful, which, frankly, is a pretty apt description of the MTC. We've been teaching in Spanish for awhile, but this is going to be the first week where we teach in exclusively espanol. The language is fun but I really want to actually be immersed in it, because you never get that total immersion here like you would in the country. So we didn't have an apostle last week but we had another emeritus seventy which was really one of the best devotionals we've had here, but tonight we have our fingers crossed for one of the big 15 (First presidency or an apostle). So there really isn't much else to report. Things are moving along here as they should and I'm really happy to be where I am. anyway i'm gonna run.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

From the MTC

July 13th 2010

So I'm alive and well at the MTC and just so you know, Tuesday is my P-day. I love it here. Its sometimes feels like a really long version of EFY if EFY was on steroids. I spend essentially all day in a class having Spanish thrown at me, but I love it. Because I am in the Intermediate Spanish zone from Day One, we speak almost Spanish exclusively which is pretty funny because its still pretty clear that we don't really know how to say anything yet. I am actually a part of a Trio which is working out really well. My companions are Elder Jack and Elder Pericle (pronounced "Pear-E-Clay"). Elder Jack is from Colorado Springs and we are pretty sure that he used to live in Grandma and Grandpa's ward before it split a few years ago. Elder Pericle is from Virginia and he is a few inches taller than Mike. Last Friday, we ended up combining two districts so we are actually a district of 13 Elders (no Hermanas) which is gigantic, especially because we have to all fit into one classroom (and these classrooms aren't very big). My spanish is coming along pretty well but I'm obviously not being confused for a native. My biggest problem tends to be remembering vocab. The grammar seems pretty easy for me but actually remembering the words which is making things the most difficult. We are praying and bearing out testimonies in Spanish already though which is really fun. My companions and my district loved the package. Yeah, things are going well Well, I love you guys and am excited to actually have y'all email me next week, although I like the feeling of getting mail (and packages :) ).

Elder McNeil

July 20th 2010

Hi everyone,
Things are going really well here in the MTC (or CCM en español). Thanks for all the packages, it is really fun getting packages because everyone in the district surrounds you to see if its food, and if it is, its like watching a wolf-pack fight over leftover meat, but in a funny way, not a Twilight-y kind of way. Because you asked, the language is easily my largest stumbling block right now, which is expected, especially in an Intermediate Spanish district. Because we already understand a lot of Spanish they just kind of start throwing it at us, which is actually nice because before we leave, we are really going to the language well. Granted we are all used to be tested in written test and essays so the speaking is really giving us some grief but we are just gonna have to get used to that because, frankly, we are going to speaking a lot. The MTC is really fun, and, although I understand why people compare it to being in jail, I LOVE IT. Its like EFY on steroids times 10. We are excited to wake up everyday and experience the awesome atmosphere here. Every Sunday and Tuesday we have firesides and devotionals, which are always great, and my high school Spanish is coming back, although I am starting to believe that high schools really should step up their language programs because Spanish is way harder than it ever felt in HS. One of my companions, Elder Jack is actually quite good but that is because he has been listening to almost entirely Spanish music for the past few months since he got his call. Elder Pericle and I are always amazed when he mentions EVEN ANOTHER Latin song. Well my time is just about up so I'm gonna let yall go but I love yall and will keep you in my prayers and hopefully you'll keep me in yours.

Elder McNeil

July 27th 2010

So I still love the MTC but we are reaching maximum capacity, I have no idea how we can fit the Elders who are coming tomorrow onto the campus. I think we are the only intermediate Spanish zone which means every week we just get a flood of people but people who are going to Spain and Mexico haven't been getting visas so they have ended stuck here for undetermined periods of time. I think we are supposed to get 33 new Elders in our zone but we will only be losing about 13. The Provo Temple is open again so we went this morning and it was packed! They had to pull out extra chairs to fit everyone into the session! I'm glad Kerri thinks my language skills are pretty good. I've been working pretty hard but I know they need to be much better before I can teach the way I like to, but I know that that will just come with time. So the computers here yell at you if you don't write fast enough so i gotta go.

Elder McNeil

August 3 2010

Ya so this week was very much the same as the other weeks in the MTC. Things don't change here very quickly, just a lot of moving from class to class. The language is coming really well now and we try to speak it most of the time but its hard to keep speaking Spanish in those free minutes we have every once in a while. Our zone just keeps getting bigger, and the MTC is bursting at the seams but it looks like enough visas are coming through for places like Spain and Mexico (where everyone and their brother is sent to) that the turn over rate is at least improving. We are still hoping that Elder Pericle, one of my companions, gets his visa so we can head to the Madrid MTC as soon as he gets it. Tonight we have a devotional and we are hoping for an Apostle. The month of July was a strange month here at the MTC because the temple was closed and it is the month that the apostles have off, but now that it is August, they generally try to make up for it with a few big general authorities in a row. Yeah, things here are moving along as they should. Now that I've been in the MTC for a month I feel like I'm a pro at this Missionary thing, but I am eagerly waiting to be humbled. Anyway I gotta go love y'all.

Elder McNeil

Sunday, July 4, 2010

My MTC address

So my address starting September 6th is now in Chile! To send letter, it is easy to send just using the missionary pouch

Elder Christopher Jeffrey Mc Neil
Chile Concepcion Mission
POB 30150
Salt Lake City UT 84170-0150

Or you can mail directly to the mission in Chile

Elder Christopher McNeil
Misión Chile Concepción
O’Higgins 940 Oficina 502
Concepción, Chile.

Please write me!!!

My new blog

Hey everyone,
So this will be my mission blog and I hope to convert it into a personal blog when I get home from the two year mission I am serving for my church. If you aren't familiar with the LDS Church mission program, I have proven to some local leaders that I am ready to go out, into the World and perform service and teach people about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. I was called to serve in the Chile Concepcion Mission and will be serving for 24 months. I am really excited to go out and serve, but it means sacrificing things like cell phones, any sort of trips to see my family, or email with anyone outside of my family. This is a part of making sure that missionaries are focused on the work and aren't being distracted by anything going on back home. This blog is here so my friends can be kept up-to-date with my stories and pictures. Please pray for me as I embark on this adventure.
ChrisTOPHER McNeil

You can write me at:

Elder Christopher McNeil
Misión Chile Concepción
O’Higgins 940 Oficina 502
Concepción, Chile.