Sunday, July 31, 2011

July 25th

Well, I didnt expect this last week to be relaxing for you two but it seems like it ended up being one very big, stressful mess for you. I'm sorry. I know that you probably are hoping for some time to relax and enjoy the summer but I've come to notice that, the older you get, the more stressful things seem to be. I've seen that here a lot in the mission. THe older members and investigators have a lot more on thier minds than us young folk. I know that probably doesnt help much but that is just an observation I've made over time. 
So, I am going to attach some pictures that I know you have been anxiously waiting for. Hopefully it will make up for all the time that has past since I last sent anything. 
So things are going well here. We are really seeing improvements everyday in ourselves and in the sector. I am really grateful for the chance to train because it is really helping me be a better missionary. I know I am not perfect but I am always trying to improve so, I feel like that is good.
We did a service project for a sister in our ward and one of her friends (a recent convert) came, grab a saw and hammer and went to work with us. I was really impressed. I was actually shocked that Bernarda would do that with us. It was really fun to work with her. 
We have a conference tomorrow which should be great. I can always feel when I am in need of  conference and I am excited to hear what President Humphrey has to say tomorrow. 
SOrry for not writing more but I am feeling a little fever-ish and am going to lay down for a little bit. I want you to know that I love you guys and that I am always praying that things work out well for you in all that you do.

Elder McNeil

July 18th

So that marble platter is pretty impressive but it would be nice to see it for real. I am sure that it is going to be a great addition  to what is going to be an incredible house. I am really happy to know that you are enjoying all the movies that are coming out. The members here always like to talk to me about movies because they know that I was a movie fanatic before the mission so they like sharing their opinions with me about such-and-such movie. A lot of members here have been talking about the new transformers, Harry Potter, and the new XMen movie. I want to one of them to see Cars 2 and fill me in on how it is. If there is one movie I want on the top of my movie list, it is Cars 2.
Wow, so it is nice to hear that you got such a flattering letter from President Humphrey. I am just trying to do what I was called to do but if people see that I have talents and abilities that I don't know about, I will happily keep trying to use them as best as I can. I feel that I really am uncovering and unlocking a lot of abilities I never really knew I had but I am far from a perfect missionary but I am doing my best.
So this week was really interesting. Chile was playing the La Copa America and was doing really well which was really exciting because the chileans were getting really into the games. When Chile scored, you could hear EVERYONE yelling while we were walking in the streets. Unfortunately it made it a lot harder to work on game days. Last night Chile lost to Venezuela which was disappointing but it is at least going to make it easier to work.
It has also been a lot colder recently which means that people are staying inside more and it has been a lot easier to do contacts BUT our house is really cold at night. We have an electric heater that we turn on every morning as we wake up and at night was we get home to warm up our bedroom. Sadly, the rain and cold keep even the most active of members from coming to church so this Sunday, our ward which normal has an attendance of 120+ only had 90. That was sad but winter only lasts so long and hopefully things will warm up here soon.
Random story. So there is a member of our ward who served his mission in the states and speaks English pretty well. He is a really great guy and he was hired to help a hotel make some official announcements about the hotel's reopening in English and Spanish. Well, they needed a recording in English to put on their website and on their phone lines to announce the reopening. Well, the member asked me to read something in English, heard my voice and said "I NEED YOUR VOICE!"  (Chileans find my voice fascinating for some reason. They ask me to speak in English so they can listen to the tone of my voice. Apparently that is just another one of those random talents that you stumble upon while on your mission.) He asked me help write and then record the announcement. He was really excited to have me help him out and we had a little bit of a bonding moment. As missionaries, we look for service opportunities on every street corner, but who would have thought that all I would have to do was talk.
So, it is sad hearing that your parents are slowing down but they're still kicking so I'm not going to complain. Good luck with your meetings Dad. I know that you are going to be stressed and probably even a little upset this week but it wont last forever.
Elder McNeil

July 11th

So, i know you have asked for pictures a few times but I have been a hard time getting pictures upload onto these computers to send you. Don't worry there isnt anything wrong, it is just that the internet cafe I usually go to has rewritten some software and my memory card adapter doesn't work with the software. I have been taking a lot of pictures and things are going really well.
So, we are doing well. In the last week, we have been able to pretty much doble the amount of lesson we are teaching which is great because this is a tougher sector to teach in. We are seeing some progress from a number of investigators but it will be hard to have any baptisms in the next few weeks which is tough. This is the longest I've gone in the mission without "getting wet" and our investigator, who would have been baptized last week, wasn't able to get permission, but there is still hope for him and a number of others.
My kid is doing well. He is really smart and really is trying to absorb the Chilean culture which has been a lot of fun to see. We are working really hard to try to get as much out of this sector as we possibly can. I have been working a lot with faith and unleashing its power. I am learning that an attitude of faith is probably the most important tool for overcoming any situation (I would recommend reading Hebrews 11 and the talk Hope by Elder Snow from this most recent conference).
So i really don't have a lot of news for y'all. Things are going really well here and I am really excited to see this sector produce some visible fruits. We are really excited to keep working hard and having fun. So, it is good to hear that you were able to find someone better to work on the house. Maybe you can still finish the house before I get out there (if not, at least soon after).  Heck, if it comes down to it., I'm thinking of sending a package home soon and if it comes down to it, I'll just send you my memory card. (That isn't a done deal but if I do, I will). So things are doing well and I hope you have a lot of fun. I love you a ton.
Elder McNeil

July 4th

Okay, so i know that you are probably completely exhausted still from your trip but it is great to know that y'all are doing well and that things should be moving forward here soon on the house. I never realized just how complicated a process it is to build a house. A lot of people here in Concepción keep making comments about the temple and how the church needs to start on it soon, but if it was this hard to build a house, I can't even imagine how hard it must be for the church to build one of its majestic temples especially when there are prejudices against them.
So you liked Transformers 3. I really was not a fan of the second but its nice to hear this one wasnt bad. mish, I'm excited to see it one day.
So you are probably anxious to learn about my trainie. Well, his name is Elder Ojeda and he is from Mexico. He is really cool. He is 25 and has already graduated from college which makes me feel a little weird being his trainer.
The jump from Junior comp to training caught me by surprise but it taught me to live by the principle "expect the unexpected". To be completely honest, at first I was kind of confused and didn't really know what to do but I am getting a hang of things and things are going well. One of my big goals is to increase my efficiency as a missionary. We really need to teach short powerful lessons that really help people because if we don't we will be helping few people and see very little progress. It was really eye-opening for me to see the difference between bad planning and good planning and now I am committed to planning as well as I can from here on out.
So, I complete a year in the mission this Thursday.... the time is going by too fast. I wish I could have come into the mission knowing the things I know now because I now only have half the time to really apply the things it has taken me a year to learn. There is no such thing as a perfect missionary let alone a perfect greenie but if I knew what I know now before, I would have done things quite differently. 
Well, we might have a baptism this week unless the investigator's grandpa changes his mind. Please pray that his heart might be soft and that he will let his grandson get baptized.
Oh random story. SO yesterday we had a stake conference with Elder Zaballos of the seventy and his wife and they wanted to take a special picture with me because Hermana Zaballos sent me a package for my birthday a few months ago.  A friend of mine met thier daughter in Utah while she (thier daughter) was doing a study abroad there. My friend Brianne asked them to bring a package to Chile for me when they came home after General Conference. When they got home they send the package from Santiago to Conce. When I saw a random package from Santiago, I obviously freaked out and then when I found out how it got to me, it was even more incredible. They thought it was a fun experience and wanted to take a picture so they could remember it. I'll try to get a copy of the picture because it really was a fun experience.
Anyway, I love you guys and hope everything goes well. Mom, get better, you can't go around getting sick on me.
Love ,
Elder McNeil

June 26th

So it seems like everyone in our family is having just crazy cool experiences. It was fun killing Elder Harmer but it was sad. He was a really enjoyable companion and it was really sad to say goodbye to him. Actually 3 of my last 5 companions are going home today. I feel old in the mission! Time is going by way to fast.
Unfortunately, I spent a decent amount of last week a little sick but we got everything done that we needed to and it was a lot of fun. Cristofer is doing really well and we are finding more good people as well. The ash from the volcano erupting in southern Chile has actually caused some problems in our sector. It isn't like what happened when mike was in the mission but we are getting a little bit of the ash cloud here in the bay. 
So about my new companion... well, I would tell you about him but I don't know him, because I'M TRAINING. I will meet my new companion tomorrow and I'll let you know all about him next week. I wasn't expecting this at all but its happening! I am just about to complete a year, just killed my last comp, and I'm having a son! Time moves so incredibly fast in the mission and I am just grateful that the Lord has enough confidence in me to let me do this work. Mom asked why I am enjoying the mission so much. I can't explain it. It is just good. Being a part of something so good for everyone. What could be better than sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the world?
So I have to go but I love you all a ton and hope everything is going super well for you.
Love r,
Elder McNeil

June 20th

. Killing a companion is tough because there are a lot of feelings to be hurt and a lot of people who can take what I do and say in the wrong way. It is also makes it a lot harder to not think about what I will do when I finish the mission. I just don't even let my mind wander into thoughts like that. I just am focusing on taking our one progressing investigator and helping him receive the gospel and putting my heart and soul into finding other people like him. One thing I've seen in the mission is that there are alot people who are really prepared and, as missionaries, we need to be willing to make the sacrifices required to find them. Cristofer was a teenager we found on Wednesday and I immediately knew that he was the investigator I've been looking for. It was a wonderful moment and I am so grateful for the blessings that Heavenly Father decides I deserve/need. Yeah, I am really happy about the way things are going.
So, people here think we have a really cool family because they found out that Kerri is in Jerusalem and that you were in India last week. It's nice to know that you didnt have some of the same adventures that we had last year and that you are having new adventures of your own to tell. What are y'all going to do for Kerri? She needs to have some crazy experience too (not that Jerusalem isn't adventurous enough). Here in Chile, it is rare to see air conditioning so I'm used to that already although right now it is winter which means RAIN!!!! We have also had a number of beautiful days which has been great. Hopefully you will have good weather when you go to El Nido or you will really miss out on that wonderful experience.
So Dad bought some of those carpets? And a marble Oakland temple? and a marble chess table? That doesn't sound like him. I guess he just couldn't help himself. Happy late fathers day BTW. I gave a talk yesterday in sacrament meeting and started off talking about how awesome you are. It was a good talk.
You need to start planning what the next big family vacation will be in a few years. (My vote is for a tour of south America and I assume mike and kerri will agree).
So with my facebook, people can't add me as thier friend and I have a lot of angry chileans looking for me on facebook right now. What can I say? People want to be my friend, who would've guessed, right? ;)
I am really happy right now. I love you tons and will keep you updated on everything.
Love ,
Elder McNeil

June 13th

Well, i do have to admit that I am a little disappointed that I cant brag about being the only kid you have taken to India, but I guess I'll just have to get over that. I know Mike and Cabrina are going to LOVE New Delhi and El Nido. I hope you have more time there than we did. That trip seemed to go by WAY to quickly. I have some great memories of our adventures out there, I just hope you dont get in any car accidents this time around.
Well, this week went well. We had interviews and it seems like President Humphrey is happy about how I am doing. It is really nice to have that opportunity to talk specifically about how to improve and learn from your mission president. The rest of the week went fairly well too. We have found a lot of good people but they all have specific difficulties and challenges. It is going to be hard to get a baptism before Elder Harmer finishes the mission which is tough for the both of us. Seeing as he only has two weeks left, I am trying to do everything I can to make these last weeks as rewarding as they can be.
So we tried to make american style onion rings this week and... well... they just werent the same so we are going to try and perfect the recipe so we can share something very gringo and cheap to make with the people here in Lirquén. One thing that I have learned in Chile is if you cant get into somebody's heart right away, charming them into receiving the gospel is sometimes necessary. (But this principle must be used with caution). I really want to help the people here in Lirquén receive the gospel but many have very views about the church and I have to keep adjusting the way I work to better fit this area but I feel like I am seeing progress which is what we want.
Hey Dad, so people still can't add me as a friend on facebook and they would greatly appreciate if you were able to get that fixed. (Mike can help). HAVE FUN AND BE SAFE.
Love ,
Elder McNeil 

June 6th

So did mom say something about you guys going to India again? Well, that's cool if you are. Also I hope things go well with the contractors. I want this project to be as problem free as possible for you. It was also great that you spent some time with Mike and Cabrina. I am sure they loved that little break from all the chaos of moving and getting settled in NC.
So this was another fun week. We worked hard and really saw some miracles with some recent converts and some less-active families who we are working with to complete their families. Unfortunately I don't have any news about our investigators but this sector is full of potential and I know that there is someone here waiting for us to knock their door. We have really been having a hard time finding people to teach which is when we need to get creative and learn to work differently. I have been learning a lot about patience and humility recently in my studies and now I am grateful for the chance to practice what I've been learning. It is a really great sector and the people are really nice but I am still working for getting a baptism before my comp finishes his mission in 3 weeks. We would have to find someone this week, have them come to church this sunday and then the next 2 after that but it is possible and what I am working for. He is a great missionary and deserves the chance to get into the water and baptize one more time.
So I really hope this house situation works out well and Mom, I know your calling in California is way different than it was in TX and MN but you are really helping these girls and the work you are doing is super important. Don't let yourself get tired and lose the desire to help those girls. Things will work out well because they always do when your are working on the Lord's side. So remember to work hard and do what you know you need to do. I love you guys a ton and hope things are going well.
Elder McNeil

May 30th

So did you know how amazing the church's online store is? I just ordered like a ton of stuff that I needed and they are going to deliver it straight to the mission!
Sorry, sometimes you need to stop and think about how wonderful the little things in life are. So this week went really well. Well actually we are having a hard time finding people to teach but we are teaching and the lessons we are having are really great. We have also discovered how incredible the chruch's new Church HIstory DVD set is for teaching. They have a video or visual for everything! Once again, the little things in life are making me really happy.
This week we had Zone conference and since then, I have been really happy about everything. Almost too happy. I really enjoyed what we heard and the mission is changing so much. I was watching as the missionaries who are leaving gave thier testimonies and it is really incredible. THe mission I arrived to almost doesnt exisit now. Also, the church keeps giving us new materials that it is almost changing faster than I can keep up. The Lord wants the best so He is giving us everything we need to be the best. It is a lot of responsibility, especially because we are kind of gineapigs for all this new stuff and Pres. Humprehy keeps implying that there is going to be even more changes coming soon.
So i love the new sector but it is hard to adjust to a new style of working because what I did in my other sectors does not work here so it is almost like starting from ground zero but it is really fun. I like the sector a lot and the ward is incredible. A missionary has gotten home every week from the mission every week for the past 3 and there is going to be another RM this week. We are going to have lots of extra hands to help us out. I love you guys but I have to go. I hope things go well with your callings and I'll try to give dad some of the new study supplies we have been getting to help you out (the missionaries there probably already have them but who knows, maybe i can teach you something they don't know).
I love you,

Elder McNeil

May 23rd

Okay Mom, so I got your packages today plus one from my friend Brianne plus a lot of mail. (Today has been REALLY good so far). I have been getting Kerri's letters so dont worry about that. So, I have been really enjoying my time in my new sector. MY new comp's name is Elder Harmer and my sector is called Lirquén. I am going to be killing Elder Harmer this cambio which I would have done to Elder Higham had I stayed in Chillán. So it is totally and completely different from my other two sectors. First off; It is right on the ocean. I mean there is a big port, there are a lot of fishermen, and lots of seafood. (Imagine Montrey but 50 years ago). There is actually a super nice restaurant in Lirquén which is owned by a member and it is really good, plus we eat there for free (we go every Thursday). If you end up picking me up from the mission, I'll take you there. Second; There are hills... everywhere. It is like I am constantly hiking to get from appointment to appointment (I've taken some great pictures of the bay. We have some amazing views). Third; I am only  25 minutes or so from Concepción! Actually I am here in Conce right now. It is Chile's "Second City". It is really nice. I have been in more rural places for a long time so this is a little wierd. It isnt like I am in Gringolandia but it feels much more like a big city.
We have some work to do in the sector but we have a wonderful ward. It is by far the biggest ward I've been in since I've been on the mission. We are going to do quite a bit of finding because the people they were teaching before I got here have either lost interest or we haven't been able to find them. The port in Lirquén was also on strike this last week so some of the people we wanted to teach were probably there protesting and not in thier houses. Mom don't be concerned about the changes. They are expected and every sector is where Heavenly Father wants me to be. My success depends on how well I follow the Spirit and how diligent I am. I working really hard and learn a little more everyday. The Lord blesses His missionaries. It is true. We work hard, go through trials, see blessings, all because the Lord wants to show us how much He loves the children of God. Yes, I still expect a lot of myself but because I know the Lord expect a lot from me. I am not perfect and know that I wont be anytime soon, but I can observe the changes that I need to make in my life or in the way I work to best fulfill my calling. I love you guys and want you to know how happy I am. I love the mission. It has been wonderful so far and I can only seeing it getting better.
Love ,
Elder McNeil

May 16th

So I am getting transfered. I am leaving tomorrowfor my new sector. I am going to be in a sector called Lirquen in the zone of Penco. I have heard good things about the sector. I hear the ward is good and that the sector is pretty. The only bad things I have heard are that it is going to be rainy there and also there are some pretty intense hills. i havent gained weight since I´ve been here but there is a good chance I´ll lose some in this new sector. I´ll be missing some baptisms here in Chillán but I will just have to be happy that they are getting in the water. It really isnt a surprise that I am leaving which is making it easier on me. To be honest, if it was my choice, i would stay here a little longer.
This week was a lot of fun. We had an activity in the stake here about family history and we were in a skit for it. It was a great activity and makes me wonder, How are y´all doing on our family history work?
So, I tried to send a gift to you but the post office wouldnt let me send it because it has a peice of wood in it. So now I have a very large and heavy chunk of wood and metal that I cant send you until I finish the mission... i wasn´t very happy to find that out today. Other than that things are going really well.
I love you guys and hope that this next week goes well as you settle into the new house.
Elder McNeil

May 9th

So i am going to keep this email fairly short because, well, we just talked yesterday. Today, we had a Mexican food party which was a lot of fun. There is NO Mexican food here in Chile and the food we eat has very little to nothing in common so we felt the need to make something authentic. There is a missionary who is from a Mexican family who basically told me and a few other missionaries what to do while some others played some games. It was really fun and we ate a ton!
So after the phone call, we had to do a ton of things to finish off the week. We didn´t end with the numbers we were hoping for BUT after having 3 or 4 amazing weeks in a row, you just have to accept what happens with a smile.
Things are going well, we just need to get our investigators animated about things but that wont be a problem. My comp Elder Higham is probably the most animated people I´ve ever met. It is actually pretty funny to see.
So I´m going to know if I am going to stay or go next week. I really don´t want to go quite yet but if I do, I just have to accept it. It really would be nice to see what happens with the people we have found recently.
Anyway, I will have a lot more to write about next week. I love you guys and hope everything is going well. Enjoy all the things that make life fun. I know yall are busy but enjoy the time you have to relax a bit.
Love ,
Elder McNeil

Sunday, May 8, 2011

May 2nd

So, I am glad you like my letters. I would really like if you printed off all of my letters, made a little booklet and gave it to be after the mission. I know that that would be something I would love to have years down the road. So last time you asked about which boots fit best (the larger ones fit perfectly) and you asked about the weather (it has been colder but we have actually avoided rain which is really good for us missionaries). If you are sending another package soon, send me face stuff!!! All i want is just some sort of soap, not anything complex but face wash is very expensive here in Chile. I bottle of a normal size bottle is like $24. So it is great to hear that things are moving forward on the house. I really hope that it will be finished by the time I finish the mission (mainly i don´t want to get home, help you move, and then move all of my stuff out to BYU). 
So I am glad you had the chance to go to San Antonio and enjoy the Riverwalk and the temple. I would love to see that temple. It is one of the slightly larger minitemples and I hear it is awesome. Its sad to hear about your parents but, they are old and stuff like this happens after a certain age. It is sad but one day you will see them how you remember them in thier youth. You have to admit, any sort of problem we have in our lives can seem smaller when we remember that one day, we wont have to worry about it. 
So we had another great week here in this ward. We just keep finding people left and right and we also had a baptism yesterday. Actually we had a record breaking week in our zone, which will lead to a record breaking month. Yesterday in our zone, there was 13 baptisms. All of last month there was only 11. There is another 8 or so who should get baptized this week as well which means that our zone will have had more baptisms in the first two weeks of May than they have had in any other month in the past 5 or so years. We have found some really golden families, I´m just not sure if I am going to be here in 2 weeks or not (the probability of me getting transferred is very high). So i have no idea if i could take part in the baptisms of these people we are finding, but just in case I am, I want to keep finding these great people. 
So we played some basketball this week and I like playing against Chileans. I have the advantage of being tall and being a gringo. I´m actually not bad when you compare me against those around me.
It is really strange thinking that Kerri is in Israel right now... weird. Anyway, I am going to be on skype at 4pm (Chile time on Sunday) and I hope things work out that we can enjoy talking for the first time in a while.
I love yall a ton,
Elder McNeil

Friday, April 29, 2011

April 25th

So i am sorry if this email ends up being short. I actaully sent an email my friend Brigham who is on his mission in Boston and he ended up being his email at the same time and I may have wasted most of my time talking with him instead of writing yall. oops.
Well Mike is graduated and will soon be cutting people up (in a good way, not like a slasher/horror movie way), Kerri is running off to the middle east. I am here in Chile and Ken is probably making some super iPhone which will take over the world. We have a really cool family.
Things have been going great. I love the ward and I am learning a lot from my new companion. I will admit that my experiences with my companions here in the mission have been nothing like I have imagined but I have learned a ton! Most importantly, i´ve learned how to be wrong. I still don´t like it but I can now actaully say "you`re right, I`m wrong"! I assume that will help me out down the road one day.
This week was really fun. We worked our tails off. I have really taken charge and we are getting stuff done. This week we found 8 new investigators, recieved 8 references (THAT NEVER HAPPENS!!!), did a rediculous amount of contacts, and we are making some important changes here in the sector. We are making a lot of sacrifices here but we have a purpose to fulfill and I want to get ´er done!
Enjoy the hectic world over there in Gringolandia and I am going to take care of some bussiness around here. Mom, take care of Grandpa, Dad, bring home the bacon. I love you all a ton and know that you are going to do everything that you need to do.
Elder McNeil

April 18th

THANKS FOR THE RAIN BOOTS!!!! This week he had a few days of really bad rain and the boots only worked out perfectly. So I hope that this week will be a little more relaxing for Mom. I feel like she never gets a break. Dad, I would say the same things... but you need to put bread on the table and I think if you skip out on these meetings, you lose your job SO hopefully Mike´s graduation is enough of a break for now. I am glad you like reading my letters. I basically write just everything that comes to my mind so if it sounds a lot like the way I speak, it is because it basically is. Also, thanks for doing those small little things for me on facebook. I hope things go well with the house (I am really excited to finish my mission and come home to the new house! I assume that you will finish it in the next 15 months). Also enjoy your time with Uncle Ken and let him know that I´m thinking about him. 
So my week was pretty uneventful. I dont have any crazy stories but we did have a really uplifting mini-zone conference which was really great. As a mission we are going to be reading the 4 Gospels and Acts which is going to be really great. I love the NT and it will be a good opportunity to read more of the Bible in Spanish. It is going to be great for Kerri to see all of the history over in the middle-east. I would love to have that experience. One day I will, but right now I have work to do. My comp, Elder Higham is a district leader over the hermanas in our zone so we went and worked with them a few times this past week which was really great but ate up a lot of time so we had a few "dang, we need to do two days of work in one day" moments. I have actually been sick for the last week but I can´t really tell what I have. I assume it is just an annoying cold but I am getting better so I hope that by next week I will have all of this behind me. Things are going super well and I am having a great time. Sorry I am running out of time right now but I love y´all and hope everything goes well for you this week.
Elder McNeil

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

April 11th

Thanks for all of your birthday wishes! So if one of you could do me a favor and log into my facebook and write on my wall "thanks for the birthday wishes" and "read my blog" I would be grateful (also if there are a lot of friend requests, you can accept them as well). I am assuming that my friends from MN are confused for why I haven´t texted them or talked with them on FB, so that may help clarify whats up. 
To be completely honest, my birthday was really annoying just because people kept trying to stop us from working so they could hang out for a little bit. So I did get the packages on wed and thanks a ton! I love the game with the cup and the ping pong balls. We have had a lot of fun with that. Also thanks a ton for the boots. I know they will come in handy this winter. Actually, if you could send me more Mr. Potatohead attachments, I would be super happy. So, I´m sorry about what happened with the house but you will have it sold here soon. All you need is be patient and that house will be off your hands after no time at all.
So I have a new comp named Elder Higham. He is from Logan and he is really cool. He will be finishing the mission here in June and this is going to be his last sector. I am curious to see if I will end up "killing him" because if I do, I will be in Chillán for atleast 7 months (if not only 4.5 unless they whitewash the sector). He is also a district leader which means this is when I need to take notes on what I should start trying to improve in the way I work. We confirmed Ana Maria who was baptized last week which made me super happy and hopefully her son Nicolas will be baptized this week or next.
Thanks Mom for your words. I know that there are a lot of changes happening there at home right now and it is a little sad that I can´t take part in any of it but it is obvious that what I am doing is better anyway. Trust me, I am only changing a lot. I am the most humble person ever now! Sorry for the lame joke but really, things are going really well and I know that you will be surprised by what you will see when I finish the mission. I have 15 months to become the best possible person. That is more than enough to change many more lives, but most importantly my own. You know what? I feel like you have changed a lot since I have started the mission as well. I mean, this mission doesn't only change the person serving the mission but the rest of the family as well. You are incredible, even if you don't believe it some times. 
Anyway, I love you guys and hope for the best. Remember that i keep praying for you and everything you are trying to do.
Love ,
Elder McNeil

April 4th

Okay this week was a really super stressful week for us here in my sector. Nothing went wrong or anything and the work itself is progressivly improving and getting better but we were just super busy. My comp, Elder Stephenson was really sick for a lot of the week, we moved to a new house (this is by far the nicest house in the mission) and we had conference. Between sessions we had a little barbeque out infront of our new house (we live a block or so from the stake center and, like I said, this is a really nice house). I really loved conference and it really was awesome to listen to the prophets voice again. It is strange that the last two conferences have been spent here in Chile. I like what Elder Cook said about women in the Church (THANKS MOM). Also, during priesthood sessions, President Uchtdorf dropped the hammer on the priesthood holders of the entire church saying we need to live up to the priviliges of the priesthood (it was an awesome talk). Also, where the heck did Elder Robbins` talk come from!!! It was AWESOME!!! Also President Monson made me want to go to the temple so badly but we have to wait until the the temple is built or until the mission ends (whichever happens first). 
So we also had a baptism on sunday between conference sessions. Ana Maria got baptized this week and will get confirmed on my birthday!  Things are going super well in the sector (she was my third baptism here in this sector which typically is a little bit harder than most). So I am getting a new companion tomorrow and I really don`t know much about him excpet that his name is Elder Haim and that he will be a district leader here in Cordillera.
The chance of me getting my packages are low but I will get it here soon enough.Well I dont have a lot else to say. I love you all and hope you are doing well.
Love ,
Elder McNeil

March 28th

Okay so I actually don´t have a ton to say this week excpet that I AM AN UNCLE!!! I guess that really wont sink in until I see him but that is a long time away (I´m actually not counting because I would rather not know). AJ looks great! I am so excited to meet him one day! 
So things have been pretty uneventful here in Chile this past week. My comp had his birthday and the member that made us lunch made us more food than I have seen since I started the mission. I literally ate so much that I puked (I think that was the first and last time I will ever do that). Unfortunely I have been fighting off a cold all week but the work is going well. We are actually moving to a new house in my sector. It is by far the nicest house (for missionaries) I have seen in the mission. We are really excited but it means that we not only have to use all of today but a lot of wednesday to move all of our stuff.
 It seems like Ana Maria and her son will be getting baptized here soon (hopefully on my birthday) and we have a lot of investigators who we just have to drag to church (by far the hardest task as a missionary is getting people to church). We are really excited for General Conference because it is a break from the rountine it is just weird thinking that the last conference was so long ago and that I was here in Chile (this means that I will be completing 9 months as a missionay here in april...) Where is the time going?
Our stake here in Chile had a temple trip last week and three of the nine converts in this ward from last year went to do baptisms. They even brought thier own family names and they had incredible experiences. The church is amazing in the way it touches our lives and their trip to the temple is a big sacrifice considering how far we are away from santiago. I hope to hear some great stories from my converts one day about thier missions and thier sealings in the temple. The hardest thing for me being here in this mission is that we have no access to the temple. We go there once as we are leaving the country but for a whole 22 months I can only go to and look at the temple pictures. There hasn´t been any news about the concepción temple except that about a month ago, the head architect or planner or something, came with the newest set of missionaries so we will see what that means. I will keep my eyes open for my birthday stuff. 

I love you all and I know that no matter what, you will always be praying for me, which I need sometimes. Thanks for being awesome!
Elder McNeil 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

March 21st

I was really scared that I wasnt going to get your email. I was really upset there for a few minutes but thank goodness it showed up. I am glad BYU is doing well and that you can enjoy March Madness anywhere in the world. I hope your trip goes well. Did you have any sort of problem with the whole japan nuclear castrophy in your travelling? So life is busy as usual which really doesnt surprise me at all. I just hope that things go well with uncle Ken. 
I dont have a whole lot of news to share. I am happy, things are going well, we are finally finding people to teach, but unfortunetly I have been a little sick the past few days. Maria got confirmed and is officially a member of the church. We had interviews this past week and President Humphrey basically promised my comp that he will be leaving this transfer. It is a little unfortunte because we get along really well but he is close to finishing his mission and has never actually been to concepción since he started the mission. The mission is split into "the inside" and "the outside". He started the mission as far away from concepción as you possible could. He has slowly been going south since and he just wants to make sure that he can finish the mission on the inside. Pres. Humphrey also really wants to get some younger missionaries into leadership positions and he really likes the group that I came with so we will see what will happen here in these next few transfers. I really would rather finish my time here in Chillán fairly peacefully, which will probably happen, but it really isnt my choice. I just feel that there is a lot more to learn before I start taking on leadership responsibilities. 
I really hope things go well for you and that you can fianlly get the chance to relax one day. Keep me informed on everything that is going on with the family.
Elder McNeil

Sunday, March 20, 2011

March 14th

Okay, I was starting to get a little anxious about the lack of information about Austin but now that I know that everything is good and normal, and I atleast know some sort of info, things are good.
So I don´t know if you have already sent my birthday package but if you haven´t, can you toss some athletic/sweat pants in there, and some slippers? The temp is starting to slowly drop and seeing as none of the houses in the mission have central heating, it would be nice to have some warm stuff to get me through the colder nights.
So in good news, this week, it was like our sector completly changed. Everything is getting easier and we are having a much easier time with everything now. Also Maria got baptized which was really great. We also learned her life story which is probably one of the craziest things I have ever heard. I would like to thank you for not selling me off to a crazy spouse to take the dowry at the age of thirteen and I have great trust that you wont sell off any of my children while I am working to buy cigarettes and maté. If you did, I would have some serious problems. (Just to clarify that, her mom sold her to a crazy husband who tried to kill her, years later, her mom sold her children, and after that, she had to travel around Chile and Argentina to find the people who bought her children.) Apparently stuff like that was fairly common here in Chile 25 years ago because I have heard that it happened to someone else many years ago as well. I am just glad I wont ever have to worry about anything like that.
We also found a number of great investigators this week, all of whom have stories worth telling. Ana-Maria is a chilena who was living in Austria with her Austrian husband. They came to chile this past december to spend the holiday here with her family. During her vacation, her husband gets murdered and she decides to stay here in Chillán for awhile before going back to Vienna. She had been living in her house for 3 days when we found her.  Talk about being led by the spirit.
There was also a man named Jaime who we met who was in a car accident ten years ago where he had a lot of damage done to his face by a pole that hit him. His face was reconstructed fairly well but was paralyzed on the right side. He used to be an architect in Concepción and was working in the same building as the mission office and he was really happy to see missionaries again because it reminded him of working there.
So, it has started to rain again which means that summer is ending and that winter will be hitting us pretty hard here soon (well there is fall between summer and winter but I guess that is an unimportant detail). We are getting ready for a very wet winter but at least I am not on the coast where the missionaries get drenched everyday.
So yes, we have heard a lot about the earthquake in Japan and the tsunamis and the nuclear powerplant explosion as the cherry on top of the cake. The Chileans say that what happened in Japan is a lot worse than the earthquake they had here. They are very greatful that things happened the way they did last year because the devestation in Japan is a lot worse. Talking about the tsunami, all of the sectors of the Chile Concepción mission that were hit by tsunamis in last years earthquake were all hit again by the tsunamis coming from japan. Some people just got back into their houses which just got destroyed again. Some missionaries had to be evacuated but they had a very long time to do so (like 13 hours) so they didn´t have any serious problems. I am only like 1.5 hours from the coast so that have to be a nasty tsunami for anything to happen to me.
So I hope everything is going well and that grandma and grandpa Brew stay in Lousiana this time and that we dont have to grandpa´s crazy WW3 food storage ever again. Things are going well and I am really happy with everything right now.
Love ,
Elder McNeil

Sunday, March 13, 2011

March 7th

The birthday wish list. Well, that is a good question. Some missionaries said that I wont be able to find rain boots in my shoe size here in chile, so i guess you will have to send those. The ward loves the stickers that you send and i still have a lot but they demand (by force) more of the stickers with the paintings of Christ. Maybe a new watch (one with a plastic or metal band and not any type of fabric) My watch which I´ve had since I started the mission now smells like if you put a dirty gym sock in a blender with sea water and a litterbox. I cant really think of anything else. I did get that package that you asked me about a while ago. I havent had as much time as I would like to practice the piano but I have improved a lot and we might actually move into a new house here in this ward which has a piano. If that happens, I will really get the simplified hymns down.
So I heard about the BYU basketball team but I also heard that they are still playing really well so I dont think we really need to worry too much about them ending the season well.
Anyway, it is nice to hear that you will be out of the house here soon and that you can hopefully get this show on the road with the new one but isnt there a big news item that you haven´t touched on in months? Like Austin, your soon-to-be-born grandson???? Isn´t he supposed to come fresh out of the oven sometime this month? Why haven´t I heard anything about that? 
So this week we had a good mission conference which has really helped me stay motivated in this harder sector. It is a wealthy sector of older families (older families mean that they are deeply rooted catholics or, on the other side, "evangelicos" ) so it is a real challenge to find investigators. We have an incredible investigator named Maria who we really want to baptize this week even though the date we set is for the week after. Unfortunetly, we dont really have any other sincere investigators but that is where patience comes in. We devote about 2 hours everyday to finding so after 14 hours a week, we should find someone (well, you would assume. We are trying to do a lot of new things to find people instead of the same old door contacts, but you cant force someone to listen to the gospel if the dont want to, even if you are juggling flaming chainsaws and singing a opera that you write based off of the Book of Mormon story of Ammon (that is still on my list of things to do here in the mission)) . Things are actually going quite well considering the challenges that we are facing here. The ward is trying to help and we are trying to provide ways for them to do so. I´m not saying that I havent come to the house really frustrated and on the verge of bursting into tears (that has happened a few times since I´ve been here) but I know that my efforts aren´t in vain.
I hope Kerri is good to go to Jerusalem here soon. I have heard that there are some crazy things happening over there in that side of the world (the middle-east) so I don´t know how much longer the Church will keep the BYU-JC open. I would love to go one day assuming that it is sill open.
Mom I know that you have a lot to do in these next few weeks. I like what you said about Nefi. Nefi was asked to do things that, for someone with no experience, were (for the lack of a better word) rediculous. I´m sure he was a little shocked and confused at first but he just had to say, "Okay, things is tough but I can do it". He just followed the blueprint Heavenly Father gave him. Keep going to the temple, praying, and reading the scriptures and the blueprint will come to you. It obviously wont be easy. If it was easy it wouldnt require faith but God has taught us that He works by our faith. Show that you have faith and He has promised to take care of the rest.

I love you all and hope the best for all of you.
Elder McNeil

Monday, February 28, 2011

February 28th

So things have continued to go well. Well, actually this week was a little harder. The summer vacation is coming to an end this week so everyone packed up their bags and left... again. I know that once school starts back up again (this week), we can finally start hunting our investigators down. We actually have some really great investigators who are progressing really quickly but, because this week was the last moment to avoid the reality that summer is over, we sat ackwardly in sacrament meeting, completely investigator-less (that doesn´t happen often but when it does... it isn´t a good feeling).

This week should be different. Our investigators are in town and they are really trying to get this ball rolling. I don't know if I have said this before but Cordillera is a sector much more difficult than San Clemente was but we are doing well and we have some people who should be getting baptized here during March. I will admit it is frustrating putting so much effort into finding and teaching and to not see any sort of visible result. For a long time, it even made me a little upset, but I know that all the work I put in is paying off and will pay off for years to come. Nobody will ever be perfect but I sure am trying to do what I am told. Do I always do it perfectly? Now, that is a question is like a double edged sword. Well, I try really hard and am finding out that I can push myself a lot further than I ever thought. We are seeing some blessing of the struggles and hopefully that will continue. This sector is known for being a little tough but I´m learning a lot and, if all else fails, at least my Spanish is improving. (That was a joke, things are going well and my Spanish is pretty kickin´)
So, if I didn´t explain before, we live in a house with another set of missionaries and, well, last week we got a greenie! Being able to talk and see what he is going through makes me feel old in the mission. It is also just fun the adjustment process. Those first few weeks are... interesting. 
I just hope that everything goes well with the house and that everyone is going okay. It is incredible that you sold it so fast .  Also, I would love to help Dad plant some trees in a few years. Everything will go fine with the house, it is all just a part of the process and it will all be worth it when it is all said and done. Things are great and here are another few pictures.
Love ,
Elder McNeil

February 21st

Okay so this week was about 100 times more relaxed than last week. I really love Chillán and things are going really well here as far as the work goes. So did have our special regional conference (I should probably keep it very clear that it was a satilite transmission) and the temple wasn´t even mentioned once, but it really isn´t important. We still got to listen to Pres. Packer and Elder Christofferson (who speaks incredible spanish). The temple will be build in its own time and I know I will atleast see something happen with it while I´m still here.
So I found a ciber with a card adapter that works so SURPRISE, I´m going to send a ton of pictures in this email.
So I´ve learned that the mission treats you well when you stop looking for "success" and just let things happen. It is good to have expectations but when reality comes along you have no choice to accept it, so why not accept it with a smile? This past week went really well, and we are getting things lined up for a few possible baptisms here soon.
  So here are some photos I´ll send more later too. Enjoy!

Elder McNeil


Saturday, February 19, 2011

February 14th

So it is terrible to hear about uncle Ken pancreatic cancer is a mean one so he will definitely be in my prayers. Also its sad knowing that you are already leaving that house. Hopefully the house will sell quickly and that things go well with the geologists. At least your talks went well and Kerri got to see what everyone is up to and what has changed in the last 18 months. Mom, to calm you down, things are going great. The Lord always provides for His missionaries and things are going fine. My comp is named Elder Stephenson and he is great. The culture isn´t particularly different than the States. The food is generally good and my investigators are doing exactly what they need to be doing.
So you may or may not have heard about the slight increase in seismic activity here in Chile this week. I don´t mention this to scare mom but to tell you how funny it is to hear how many people think that we (the white missionaries) are here with machines causing the tremors and are secretly assassins hired by the CIA. Actually, some of the big tremors made it a lot easy to get into houses and teach lessons because many people were afraid of another "big one". Also, I saw a wild parrot this week. Like an actual perrot. Aparently they migrate here this time of year and specifically like to hang out here in Chillán. That was really cool. Maybe if I see another I´ll take a picture to show how cool it is (they are an endangered species so they are still rare but cool). I´ll keep you filled in on my adventures.
So i am still trying to find an internet place with a memory card adaptor that works so I can send you some pictures. that is why for my birthday, I would really like a memory card adaptor that i can plug into a usb port. I´ve tried to find some here and although you can find them, it would be nice to have one that is less likely to catch fire or explode.
So there is a good chance that I will hear some sort of news about the concepción temple this week. I´ll let you know all the details as soon as I know them but we are having a special regional broadcast from SLC for the southern half of Chile (AKA the concepción chile temple district) and there are rumors of a groundbreaking here in these next few weeks.  If so, yall need to come pick me up from my mission so you can see what the temple will be like. Actually yall should come pick me up from my mission anyway. It might be the middle of winter when yall do but I promise you guys will love it.
Elder McNeil

February 7th

Well, I hope things keep going so well with Kerri home. She is probably freaking out still. Just keep me filled in on all the new toys she is getting, just so i know what to look forward to in a year and a half. Ha, okay well, I dont even really have time to think about that stuff but I hope she enjoys all of her new toys. I hope everything goes well with Mom´s calling and with all of the responsibilities that goes with that and that everything goes well with the house. Also, if you ever see the Stake president, let him know i appreciate the letter he and the stake presidency sent me, even though they only met me once.
Unfortunately, I dont have a lot to report about the work here in Chillán. This sector has proven to be a lot harder than I ever imagined. We are hoping that it is just because everyone has left town for the summer vacation but I have been working really, really hard and we have some real potential here. I know that as long as I keep at it patiently, we will get this ball moving but you know how frustrating it is for me to work really hard and see little progress. At least I have had some great stories to tell (read the email from last week pasted below). Well I am trying to attach some photos of some of my adventures but it doesnt look like this computer will let me so you may need to wait a little bit longer for those.
Today we made some great breakfast burritos with our district leader who is from California but is from a Mexican family so thing are going great.

Love ,
Elder McNeil

January 31st

So as I promised this is going to be a nice long email. I only had a really, ridiculously crazy week so I know you will enjoy every story that I´ll write. So Kerri is probably in the airport as I write this week makes me feel a little sick to my stomach. One day that will be me. I don´t want to sound like Peter Pan and the Lost Boys but I really don´t want to grow up! The time is already going by way too fast and there is way too much to do! To live will be a big adventure. Just a random thought, I have a few nicknames here in the mission. One of them is Peter Pan so the fact that I made that reference makes me laugh a little bit.
So you probably want to see the pictures from the waterfall. I would send them to you if I had the cable to my camera or an adapter for my memory card (possible birthday package item?). I don´t really have any crazy stories from the waterfall expect for the crazy ladders we had to climb to get down there. They were like the things you see in adventure movies that are only extremely dangerously looking but everyone seems to survive some how. I´ll send you the pictures when I can... whenever that will be.
Other than the waterfall I had some other crazy things happen to me. I spent a few hours Tuesday night having to chase down some escaped cows. There is a recent convert here in Chillán who owns some cows that escaped from his property up in el campo. We passed by to see how is was (he is 75 or so and we pass by every once in a while to share some scriptures with him because he is a fairly lonely man) and he said that he had to leave as soon as possible to take care of his whole cows on the loose situation. We got permission to help and I went up to the property with one of the missionaries who I live with because my comp had to stay and do a minicambio with the ZLs to get some interviews done with. When we got there we had to run behind the cows to get them startled and moving in the direction that they needed to go and then we had to run past them and up ahead to block of any sort of diversion from the path (Can you find a gospel principle in that?). I don´t know if you have ever had to run up a street with angry cows chasing you but it really is an interesting experience. We survived the adventure and now have another experience that I will never forget.
Unfortunately, I dont have any news to report about investigators. It isn´t that we don´t have any. We actually have a ton, they just aren´t progressing the way Kerri´s always do. I swear, there is something about sister missionaries that enchants the Chilenos. We are doing well and we are learning a lot about what we need to do to improve.
So there you have it. A fun filled week of adventure and excitement. I´m excited to hear from yall soon.
Elder McNeil

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Januray 17th

Okay so to answer the most important question of the day. I love my new area. The barrio is called Cordillera and the city is named Chillán. It is a city a lot further south from where I was and now I am only about 1hr or 1:30hrs from Concepción. That means that hopefully I get mail faster and can feel like I am more on the "inside" of the mission. Technically I´m not on the inside but one can always hope. I know I´ll make my way down there eventually. I really like the area. The ward isn´t huge but it has some just rockstar members. I am really excited to be working here. I got here and the first saturday we had a baptism which was cool but I am glad that from now on the baptisms we will have here will be "mine".
My comp, Elder Stephenson, is from Arizona and is about a year and a half in the mission. We live in a house with two other missionaries, one from Utah and the other from Chile so we have a lot of fun in our house. It is really nice to see more than just one face all the time. While I was in San Clemente, we never had that opprotunity so it has been nice. I think I have adapted to the new sector well. I just need to take the bull by the horns and get to work. We focused this last week on finding people to teach and my goodness did we find some goldmines. I dont want to say "Jackpot" but I guess I already said it. No in all seriousness. It is incredible the things that have happened here so far and I know that it will only just get better.
I just want you to know that I am praying for the house and for grandma and grandpa (well all four of them) and I hope things are going well there in Gringolandia. Don´t let things stress yall out. Everything will happen as it is ment to. Also, dont make Kerri trunky. That will only make these last few weeks harder for her and for me as well.
Love ,
Elder McNeil

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

January, 11th

Bueno, first off. Mom read 2 Timothy 1:7 and D&C 10:55. Hopefully those help. Also has articles and videos about every topic possible so you don´t need to ask us missionaries but use the resources of the church that you have at your fingertips (this is a principle that the people here still need to understand. I can´t even count how many blessings and scriptures I have had to share with members since I´ve been here). It sounds like things have been a little crazy for all of you and I hope that things calm down as fast as possible. 
Okay so as far as the packages go. A few months ago, I got the package with the CD player, then a few weeks ago I got the one with the Christmas stuff, and this week I got the one from the ward. If there are more I haven´t received them yet. Also, I just want Kerri to know that I DID get her package that she sent me and that I am more than grateful for the things she sent me. (Mostly for the Predicad Mi Evangelio that Mike gave her. That is easily my most prized possession here in the mission). 
Well I have some really interesting news... I AM GETTING TRANSFERRED!! Yup, this is my first time having to change sectors which is probably one of the strangest feelings of my life. It is really hard thinking that I am actually going to leave. So I am going to a city named Chillan which is south of where I am at but still a good distance north of Concepción. So I wont be out here in el campo anymore. I will be in the city and will have to adapt to working in the city which is really strange thinking about. I am going to miss San Clemente a lot but, hey, its a part of the mission so there is no use crying over split milk (especially when you already knew that the milk would be split). But this last week in San Clemente was probably the best I have had since I have been here. We really worked hard this week and the Lord really blesses you when you are putting your shoulder to the wheel. 
So some of the things that have happened to me this week. Random people who I have never met before came up to me to tell me that I have the aura of a good person (these weren´t crazy people either). Basically people like me for no reason in particular which made me feel pretty good. Also, we got a history lesson from one of the oldest members of the branch who showed us around some of the most important historical places out here in San Clemente. We were given free popsicles a few different times. There is this one kind of popsicle called Lenguix which as you eat it turns into jello and it starts to look like a tongue which was an interesting experience. Also a random mentally handicapped man ran up to me and gave me a hug. Also we got stranded in one of the farthest parts of our sector so we had to borrow two bikes from a member and ride 15 kilometers in less than 35 minutes to make it to our house on time which was fun although I still don't like bikes. 
Well, I will let you know all about my new sector next week and hope everything goes well for yall in the states. 
Elder McNeil

Saturday, January 8, 2011

January 3rd

Because it seems to be the topic of choice, no I didn´t feel the earthquake yesterday, well at least not the big one. We have a pretty big tremor here in the region of Maule (where I am) during Church but the Earthquake was farther south and we didn't feel anything here. It would be like if there was an earthquake in Tijuana Mexico and you feeling it in San Jose. I am going to ask if any of the missionaries further south felt it but all the way up here we didn´t feel it. (Remember that I am in the north of the mission, about 4 or 5 hours from Concepcion.) Okay I am really happy you got the package. Did anything break or was it all okay? Also I am really glad mom liked her pig.
Now on to what really matters. The baptisms. So I told you over the phone that we were only going to have two but Hilda surprised us 5 minutes before the baptisms and said she wanted to do it. Because she already passed the interview AND the font was already filled AND we even had two extra dresses, she got baptized too. So that was my first family that I have baptized. I´ll send pictures when I can. I don't have the cable to my camera or an adapter for my memory card so I just have to cross my fingers that I can find a Ciber with a slot for SD cards.
So to explain what happened with the P-day situation; We had two P-days the week of Christmas (Monday and Saturday because it was Christmas). Then a week later, New Years Day was also a P-day. Everything was closed on New Years so we couldn't actually write then so we were given permission to write today. Unfortunately, we don't actually get a pday this week. We just have to wait until next Monday which also happens to be transfer day so if I am getting transferred it is going to be just as busy as a normal work day, if not more.
So New Years, we had a bar-b-que with all the missionaries in Talca and watched some movies. I really love the movie Fantastic Mr. Fox. It is really freaking funny. We also watched the RM which makes me really not want to come home from my mission... EVER. Well, I guess for mom´s sake I will eventually come home but I still dont wanna.
So in theory, I could get my other packages tomorrow. I obviously wont know until tomorrow but I´ll let you know.
Well I love yall and hope everything is going well for you.

Elder McNeil