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