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