Tuesday, July 3, 2012

July 2nd

So i am really sorry that this letter is going to be really short. I am in Chillan visiting a few of my converts and then I have to get back to Concepcion for a bunch of other things I need to do. This week is going to be crazy! There is so much that I need to do that I don't think I'll be able to do it all. These past few weeks have just flown by.
We will have a baptism Sunday which should be a good way to finish of my mission.
So I'm not sure I told you about my comp's dad's book. GO BUY IT!!! I got an original copy from my comp and it is incredible. Its named "My Orange Dufflebag- a journey to Radical Change" by Sam Bracken. It should be in Barnes and Noble there in California. He said that the book went national two weeks ago.
So this might be my last letter to you guys as a missionary. I am going to try and make some time next week but I am not quite sure what the schedule for the day is going to be.
I love you tons and I will see you soon. I am so excited for everything I have to do this week. Its gonna be great.
Elder McNeil

Sunday, July 1, 2012

June 25th

First things first, don't worry about me being trunky. All missionaries get trunky and, yes, I do feel the desire to "relax" but all in due time. I am not in a hurry to be home. I love the mission and I am very blessed to be able to help the saints here in Chile and I will keep doing it until the day I go home. Then, very happily and satisfied. I will get home, sleep a lot, watch a lot of movies, play with some of your shiny new toys that you've got while I've been here but that thought isn't destracting me from the work. Actually I don't even know how I would slow down. There is way too much that still needs to be done.
I am excited to go to MN again. that is gonna be great I have to visit a lot of people there. Plus NO SALES TAX!!! on clothes at least. Mom do you want to go to the mall with me? 
I am just trying to imagine being home. it isnt possible so its not a big deal. We are working with a girl named Fernanda who could be my last baptism before I go home so we are working hard with her.
Sorry if this letter is a little short. I love you a ton and I praying everyday for the family. Please take advantage of having me in the field as long as possible.
Elder McNeil

June 18th

Thanks so much for letting me know that everything is going well. Don't worry too much about the landscaping. Heck I'll even try to pitch in a little. Heck, I don't really have money but I can move some big rocks around if you think it will help.
So I am not trunky but people do like to ask about what I'll be doing 3 weeks from now. (Technically I will still be here in Conce but I'll have a ton of meetings and stuff, plus I dont return to my sector after that so everyone is telling me that that is the day that I "die") I personally don't think about it much but the members here are pretty good at mention it a million and a half times. 
So the baptism went great. I am really happy about it. We have no idea how the Lord did it but He complete changed Maria's life in less than a month. It was incredible. There is still a lot more work to do here in the sector before I go but things are going incredible right now. We are working hard and I think we will baptize a few more people before I go so I am really happy.
So there really isnt much news. My comp had to go the hospital this week but we just spent a few hours there because it wasnt anything that couldnt be taken care of with a few medications. Things are going great and I cant wait to tell you some more stories soon.
Elder McNeil

June 11th

So it is great to know that I was accepted to band again. I know I'm gonna have to practice but that should be really fun. I am really excited for all of the fun stuff I'll do in band again. So did they say anything about a scholarship or am I gonna have to find a job too? Well, I guess I wont worry about that quite yet.
So I saw my travel info today. That is pretty exciting. I am really not trunky at all because we have so many people that we are still working with. We are going to have a baptism on saturday which is going to be awesome. It is Maria, the almost 70 year old lady I was teaching. She is doing great and things couldn't be better. 
We had a really fun activity the other day. We had a pizza competition and we had a blast. We made a mixiacn style spicy chicken pizza and it was really great. My comp liked it enough that he said that he would be willing to invest in a restaurant with me. It was really, really tasty stuff. We thought we were going to win when out of nowhere a member brought a 5 ftx5ft monster pizza. It was a ton of fun. 
I don't know if I explained this but we live in a house owned by a member of our ward. It was getting a little cold in there so my comp mentioned it to house owner (who absolutely loves us). The next day we came home from work and they had surprised us with a brand new wood stove. That might not sound exciting to y'all but it made us cry. It was so awesome. The members here love us so much. I have to admit, this is my favorite ward. The sector is unique and I love it so much. 
So that was our week. I hope everything goes well with the hous.
Life is good. I am happy and I really can't complain. The Lord has been blessing us a lot so I guess I wont be calling costumer service any time soon. Love you a ton.
Elder McNeil

June 4th

This week was significantly better than the last but today I am fighting against the clock so I can't really write much but I would like to let you know that Lissie got baptized which was a great experience. She got baptized on friday and right after there was a ward party which was really great too. We had two really great investigators (my first complete family in my entire mission) come to the baptism and they loved it. It is a wealthier family so I was surprised but just how well they are progressing. They had a little bit of a trial this week when during the ward activity some kids (not members) tried to steal their very nice car from the church parking lot but they actually thought it was really kind of funny and saw it as proof that this is something they need to follow. The only problem is that we have to get them married but there arent anything holding them back plus they already said that they would love to be sealed one day. 
We also have an amazing investigator named maria who I talked about on mothers day. She is the grandma who I promised would get baptized. She is going to be baptized on the 16th and is super happy about it. Things are going well and I'm happy. So I am sending in the band application right now. I couldn't fill it out very well but they atleast have the general idea, plus I think they will let me back on with out a problem. 
Sorry I'm outta time but I love you tons and hope everyhting goes well this week.
Elder McNeil

May 28th

So, I am really excited to go to MN. I think that would be a great time to go out and visit our friends out there in MN and check up on them. I would also love to see the Akenson's. I guarantee that that family will be one of the first invited to the new house (or atleast they better be).
So I'm trying to do the band form but it looks like the BYU website is down so I'll try again. I don't know when they want to form by but if it is soon, you can just fill it in and if not I can take care of it next week.
So this week was a little crazy. I will try to explain what happened as simply as possible. So, we found out that there was a scabies outbreak in our zone so we took the entire zone to the doctors on thursday. Half the zone was diagnosed (it isnt deadly or anything like that just annoying) and my comp and I were put incharge of a large scale disinfecting of all the houses in our zone. We had to order 6 bottles of a 22 dollar medicine (sorry, i had to use my check card for that, I got paid back). On saturday we went in to pick up the medicine and the pharmacy had only recieved one bottle. The mission was already in the process of cleaning the houses (a process that cost the mission about 1000 dollars) but we didn't get the medicine we needed so that really complicated things. Then later that afternoon there was a gigantic storm front that came in from the pacific which brought the strongest wind storm in about 20 years which led to lots of service projects and running from house to house trying to help our investigators nail thier roofs down and repair broken fences and cut down trees that could potentially cause more damage. It was a really fun week. It was actually really funny. My comp and I loved it just because it was nearly epic.
This week we are expecting to have a baptism. We are really excited for it. Mom, i dont really keep track of my baptisms but if you were wondering, this is going to be my 26th. The thing is, the amount of baptisms doesn't really mean anything. Like you said, it is about the lives we touch. I am really excited for these next few weeks. Today I start my last transfer as a missionary so I am really working hard to finish strong.
So I am really excited for the house and I hope everything goes well and I am confident that things will go fine there in CO.
I love you all a ton,

Elder McNeil

Sunday, May 27, 2012

May 21st

So this morning we had to do an emergency service. Some investigators from the ward next to us got home from Church yesterday to find their apartment on fire. The mother of the family, who was a little iffy on the idea of getting baptized this weekend) was shocked but then saw a large group of members in the ward come to help them clean and repair the apartment. She is now really excited to be baptized but we thought it would be good to go there as a zone to help a little more with the house in the morning. 
So the week went well. I am really happy with the progress of our investigators. Although we didn't get quite as many people to church was we would have liked it was still a very good week. We will be having a baptism on Saturday and we are going to be baptizing essentially every week from here until I go home. Pray for that please. Unfortunately our zone isn't doing quite as well as we are. Actually half the zone is doing incredibly well, the other incredibly bad. We are trying to do everything possible to help out but sometimes people just dont want it. 
Well, things are going really well here in the mission.I really can't complain about anything. It was a little dissappointing that one of our most important investigators didn't make it to church so we had to move her baptism back a week but she felt really sick and was crushed that she couldn't go. So things are going well in the work.
So, I was thinking about it and I would like to do marching band just one more year. After that I will work but I am excited for another year of BYU football. 
I am sorry to hear that things aren't going as planned with Grandma and Grandpa's house. I am praying that all of those problems go away because it will just be easier when that is off your hands. 
So things are going well with the new house. That is awesome. I really hope everything keeps going so well and that there aren't any hicups. 
Hey so there isnt much news so I am just gonna say that I am really excited for these next few weeks.
I love you tons,
Elder McNeil

May 15th

So we talked yesterday so I really don't have much to say. Life is really great. We just did some stuff for my comps new visa and we went to subway. The sub of the day was Chicken Cordon Blu and it was really good. As far as the work goes, I already kind of filled you in so there really isn't much to report there. Everything is great. The one thing I would like to know is if the new stake president knows that I exsist and that I will be getting home in july. So things are really good here. I can't complain about anything. We stopped by some investigators after the call and everything is awesome.
So its good to know that everything is good out there. It is awesome that things are getting close with the house and that mom is enjoying the branch. I know you will pick out great things for the house. I mean you will be living with it for a very long time. Also, I know things will go great with the the Brew's house. It will be fine. 
Sorry for such a short and boring letter, I just dont know what to say. 
Thanks Mom for being awesome.
Elder McNeil

May 8th

So, first things first. HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY MOM! I know that I will be able to say that on sunday but I thought I would just say it now because... well, I can. We are working really hard here in Conce. It is a little sad that sometimes we work so hard that it is hard to see the results some times. I feel like I've been working harder than ever but that doesn't always show in the numbers. I know that that is normal and I'm not even dissappointed either, I am excited to realize that there is even more that I can give. Really things are going great. We've been fasting and praying for families to teach and to be able to recognize those who are prepared for the gospel and we have been finding awesome people to teach. I am the happiest I've ever been on the mission right now. I am just loving everything right now... expect the rain. I could live without that. 
Anyway, it is great to hear that everything is going smoothly with your work and travels. I can't even imagine what going to church in China would be like but I'm sure that was awesome. Also meeting a mission president is always a great experience. Also we finally got rid of some of Grandpa and Grandma's junk! That is really awesome. I hope that things keep going well with the sale of the house out there. 
I know I already said this but life is really great. I am super excited to keep working hard. We are doing some really awesome things as a companion to keep working hard. 
So as far as the phone call goes. I will be online at 5pm (unless we cant get another computer from a member then it would be 6pm here). So I love you all a ton and we will talk a little more on sunday (well we have an hour so that is actually a ton of time) but see you sunday!
Love ,
Elder McNeil

May 1st

So it is good to hear that at least the house should be wrapping up as I get home. I dont mind sleeping on mattresses that still have the plastic wrap still on them. I am also glad to hear that AJ is doing well and it doesn't surprise me one bit that Mike wants to name his kid Duke. I  was thinking about David as a name for one of my kids but seeing as I am the youngest and will surely be the last to get married I will just have to come up with even cooler names. How do you like the names Blaze, Latisha, Knife and Apple Blossom? I'll keep working on them. 
So this week was really good. Probably the highlight was they conference we had with the Seventy yesterday. So Elder Duncan is a part of the mission department of the Church so he essencially lives and breathes missionary work. He sat us down, started asking us questions and we learned a ton! One of the big focuses was on teaching families. That is probably one of the hardest things for us. We often teach teenagers or single mothers but families are really hard to find. Up to this point in my mission I have'nt taught a true complete family but just single monthers and thier children. I really want to be able to baptize a complete family before I finish. I am working really hard with my comp to do everything in our power to be ready for that family. He also said a lot of incredibly great things about, well, how awesome it is to be a part of the prophicies of the prophets. For example Elder Bruce R McConkie promised that there would be 7x70 stakes in Chile. Right now there are about 75 stakes and a number of districts. Our work is the way the Lord will achieve and fulfill his promises. Also, it was just good to have a good discussion about the work but I would have killed to learn what I learned yesterday about 18 months ago. It would have change my perspective about a lot of things about missionary work. 
So everything is going well. We have some good investigators who are progressing well. We are seeing a lot of wonderful fruits from our efforts, although I would really appreciate some more baptisms in these next few months, 
So... I was looking on BYU's website and saw that with the new major I want to study (Food Science- Food Industry managment track)  I only need to take one more class to minor in business managment. That would be pretty great for me because I really like the idea of going to business school after. I dont think about stuff like that alot but I thought it was interesting. 
I hope you got the email about the townhouse too. That is something I would like a lot. 
So everything is going well. I am loving the mission still and I am working harder than I ever have to try to find the people the Lord has prepared. It is a wonderful experience and I am really excited to see the fruits of the work,
Elder McNeil

April 24th

So, thanks for the info on the house. So my question is will it be done before I get home? I mean if I get home to have to pack and unpack boxes, I'll do it but I would like to know what I'm in for.
So I sent an email that I got from my friends family who owns the townhouse that I want to live in after the mission. I am really excited but if y'all aren't on board I can still find somewhere else to go. I guess you can start talking to his mom and see what happens there.
It is awesome to know how many missionaries there are there in the branch. There are a lot of us out here around the world and everyone who is willing and worthy is needed. So as far as the plaque goes I would like to use Mosiah 5:7-8. You have no idea how hard it is for me to pick just one scripture but I really like the one I used. I dont know how long the plaque would actually be there for but it is really cool that they want to make one. 
So this week has been good. It was really stressful with the changes in the zone because we need to get two brand new district leaders trained on how to do their assignment ASAP. As zone leaders, we rely 100% on the DL's and if they aren't doing their job, life becomes a lot more stressful. We had interviews with President and we had some meetings as well. All of that was fun and we have learned a ton but what was really crazy was what happened in our ward. A recent convert's son ran away for 5 days leaving the entire ward shocked and confused (he came back but still it was stressful trying to keep the family strong during the process). Saturday as we were helping the stake president prepare a few things for the baptism of his daughter we found out that we needed to also prepare the chapel for a funeral. The mother of one of the pioneers of the church here in the area died so there were a LOT of people who were coming. So while we were helping in the baptism there was a viewing going on. After lunch that afternoon there was a ward baby shower (there are a LOT of pregnant sisters in the ward) in the chapel ( while the viewing was still going on). That night was the first funeral service. Then Sunday there was a viewing in the cultural hall during all the church meetings then a baptism of 8 year old grand daughter of woman we reactivated at 1:20 in the afternoon and a second funeral at 1:50. We lost a lot of time with all of the changes but we really have things set up for an awesome few months.
I really like my new comp. He played football at Dixie State College in Utah and he is really young in the mission. He is a really great guy.Elder Bracken has a really cool family story. His dad actually wrote a book about his life called "The Orange Dufflebag: My Road to Radical Change" it is a crazy story. I really hope it does well. The book comes out July 12th in the States but Elder Bracken is going to get me a copy in the next few weeks. 
So things are going well in the sector. We are praying and hoping really hard to find some new investigators (especially families). We are expecting to baptize in May but all of your prayers help. I have a goal of baptizing at least 5 more people before I go home and I am praying every night to reach it but we need a family to teach. We will be fasting for it but what ever help you can provide would be greatly appreciated. Also if you are going to the temple anytime soon, please go with the names of Hilda Leiva, Mauricio Cofré, and Rut Luna. They all need special prayers. 
So I love you tons and hope everything is going well.
Elder McNeil

Sunday, April 22, 2012

April 16th

So things went really well this week. This week there are transfers and I will be getting a new comp. His name is Elder Bracken. He is a really great guy. He is about 6,4 and a football player. He is from Utah and I am really excited to work with him. He is also one of the most energetic people I've ever met which is great because I am pretty much always dying because how tired I am. I think that I am officially going to finish my mission in this ward which would be incredibly great. Also I am a grandpa now. My Comp, Elder Carvajal is going to be training. That is crazy! 
This week was a little crazy for us. We ended up having to bite the bullet a few times this week to help out the zone. There were a lot of interviews that needed to be done, health problems, and, well, just a lot that needed to be done. We also were a major part of a stake service project so we were only a little bit busy these past few days. We basically spent more time out of our sector than in it this week. It was hard but really rewarding. We are seeing a lot of miracles happening in the zone but now we really want to get things turned around in our ward. We are seeing a lot of sucess reactivating families but we are working really hard to find some new people to share the gospel with. Things are actually going really well and we are hoping to see two girls that will be baptized these next two weeks from families that we reactivated and some investigators in the beggining of May. 
So I have to say how much I loved that bag of chex mix you sent me. I dont think I have ever eaten anything you have sent me as fast as I inhaled that bag. It was SOOOO good. I know that I wont be here for too much longer (I mean july is gonna be here faster than we know it) but if you find an excuse to send me anything, that is what I want. 
I am also buying some good souvenir stuff but if you want anything special let me know. (I am not going to be another copper art thing but there is a lot more I can get for y'all). 
Hey I love you all a ton and I am always prayin for you.
Elder McNeil

April 9th

Well, I am actually already short on time. I'm sorry, I sometimes get distracting reading up on church news on the church website. Anyway, I got the package today. Thank you so much for everything you sent. I am really excited about the nerds and the beef jerky. I am ready to chow down when we get to our house.
So, yes things are going much better in the sector. We are working hard and the zone is doing things that it hasn't in over a year (assuming we stay on track for this month). We are doing our part but often as zone leaders, we bite the bullet for the zone. We are seeing amazing changes not only in the investigators but in the missionaries as well. We actually did three back-to-back exchanges. It was really tough because you always want to be in your sector but we really see the blessings from doing it. Everyone is progressing and become what the Lord wants us to be. It is great seeing that. 
So this week was full of those little miracles that make life the great blessing that it is. So we are finding a lot of new people to teach and we were able to get a lot of them to church. On Sunday I was asked to talk. I wanted to talk about the atonement and relation it has with repentance. I tried to share Uncle Ken's story and (for the first time in my mission) I cried during a talk (I cried the entire time). The most spiritual moment was when I tried to read DyC 18:11-12. Read them and you'll see why it was so intense (add verse 13 too). The ward was shocked. They always thought I was a great, fun, outgoing guy, but they had never seen me emotional. I think the talk really helped some of our investigators we had there in church. Let's just say that the spirit was definetly there. 
We also organized a stake fireside with the stake presidency. They invited an area seventy to talk about missionary work. We got President Humphrey to come. The fireside was KILLER!!!! Oh my goodness. They basically told everyone to senior couple missionaries, or if they still can, get thier papers in immediately. We also gave everyone who came a Book of Mormon to hand out this week. They told incredible stories and I left just wanting to send a Book of Mormon to everyone I know. One of the best stories was about a family friend on Pres. Humphrey. He was serving a mission in Nigeria when a man stopped him and his wife (senior couple) and asked them to pass by thier house one day. In that time the first presidency asked members to write their testimonies in Books of Mormon. The missionary went to the house the next day and the man explained his story. He was a mechanic who was a specialist in Mercedes Benz. He went to Germany for a training meeting. There he was given a BoM. The missionary asked to see the book and opened it. One the inside was the picture of his sister-in-law. They were shocked how this book had made the circle around the world to get into this missionary's hands. The man and his family were baptized. There was much more but that was the most of it. 
We also heard a few special news bits from the Seventy who went to Utah for conference. Apparently we are on the verge of big news on the temple here in Concepción. Like they should announce the groundbreaking in the next few weeks type news. I'll keep you posted on that. Also apparently the church is making huge strides in some places that were never thought of before. Cool stuff is happening in the world. The  Church is true and the truth will always move foward. 
Today we had a zone activity and we made omlettes that turned out really great. It was great.
Well, I love you tons. I'll make sure that I enjoy my B-day tomorrow. Please just keep up the excitement at home. Although there is a lot that needs to get done, everything will be fine. 
Love ,
Elder McNeil

April 2nd

So, Mom I know that I am going to be taking a lot of hard classes. I understand that it is going to be hard. I am actually really concerned about it but I know that it needs to be done so I will do it, and I will do it with all the energy and excitement I can muster. I'm actually not the only missionary who is working on all of this right now either. There are a lot of us who are in the same process and we are all just as concerned and scared as everyone else. We don't want to grow up just yet. We love the mission, there is nothing more rewarding than being here and we don't want to have to worry about everything that comes with "post-mission life". Fortunately we don't have to worry about that quite yet. We still have 3 months to get stuff done. I am not trunky, although conference and having to register for classes kind was kind of a buzz kill. There is plenty left to do and we are going to do it well.
So this week was a little hard for us. We need new investigators but it seems like it has been harder than ever to find. We are just trying to stay diligent and do everything possible so that we are blessed with those people who are prepared for the gospel. It requires hard work and we are working hard. It requires patience and.... well, that is a part of where we need to improve. We are learning a lot and we will be blessed.
Conference was amazing. I really liked all of it but I really felt that Pres. Uchtdorf's talk was perfect for our family as well. I know it has been really hard on all of y'all but things are going to improve. I also really liked the focus on the most important things like family and the gospel. We must be fully converted to the gospel and not to anything else. I am really excited to improve and apply what we've been taught and study the talks better.
It is good to know that the house is going well and that things are improving there. I would love to see a picture of it when it actually looks like a house. I also am really excited to hear that Kerri will graduate in August. At the same time, that means that I am going to be the only one left that still needs to grow up... wow, that makes me feel a little lonely. Mike and Cabrina are having a blast and things are going really well. Dad good luck with work and Mom, I hope things go really well with the house in CO. Let me know if I can do anything more than pray.
Well, I love you all tons. I hope you all learned a lot from conference and that we can apply it all.
Love ,
Elder McNeil

March 26th

So, this week I have to register for classes... I also got an email about my flight info... I thought that it was going to be exciting for me to get to this point in my mission to get "back to real life" but now I just feel a little sick to my stomach. Life as a missionary just seems so much more rewarding. I DONT WANT TO GROW UP!!! I mean getting married, having a family, and all that stuff is fun and all but school? work? Well, on the bright side of things I still have a little more than three months left to keep helping people and enjoy the mission but I wish I could have more. 
I just sent an email to Kerri with all of the imformation about all the classes I need to take and I also emailed the dean of the major I want to change to. I hope she can do it because my hour to do it is at midnight thurs going into friday I think (that would be like 4 in the morning here or something like that) Please remind her about that. I would greatly appreciate it. If she cant do it she can pass the info onto you but she knows how to do it so, it would just be easier I think. 
Anyway, my birthday is coming up soon. If you are wondering what I want, i would like a laptop for when I get back. I dont want to be picky but if we could talk with Ken and get another MacBook I would be really, really grateful. I'm willing to find a way to work for it if you want. UGH, lets change topics...
Anyway, I am really excited for conference. For missionaries, conference is like the Superbowl. We buy food, set up tables and a TV to watch it in English and have a Gringo party. It is actually really fun and it is good having the spiritual boost that comes from conference and I feel like this one is going to have a lot of things specifically for me in this sort of akward stage I'm at right now.
Things are going well in our sector. We spent a lot of this week working on a service project for a member in the ward. We are building a bathroom for a widow in our ward. The neighbors cut her access to the sewage pipes (its a long story) but we are building her a new one with the high priests and elders of our ward. It also doesn't hurt that our bishop is a contractor. 
Enjoy the weekend with Kerri in Utah. I know that it is going to be great. I just hope that Taylor and her are as good of a couple as Kerri makes them sound. If he is a weirdo, let Kerri know. Like you taught us, DONT MARRY CRAZY PEOPLE is a creed in our family. 
How's the house going? Does it have a roof and are they working on the interior yet? They have three months to finish, so you might need to get the pressure on them. But if you ordered cabinets, you are atleast moving forward.
Anyway, I love you all a ton and hope things are going well.
Let me know if you want anything specific from Chile. I am going to be close to some good markets soon so I can get you stuff.
Love ,
Elder McNeil

March 19th

Well, I know that you wanted photos. Well, I have been really bad about taking pictures recently so I tried to take some good ones this week. The dinosaurs are something that I love right in the middle of Concepcion and the other pictures are from the baptism we had this week.
Well, it sounds like everything was decently exciting in y'alls lives right now. I assume that Dad is only feeling a little bit stressed out right now. I mean, that was a big change but don't worry about it. We know that your carrer is NOT more important than we are. We understand clearly that you work hard FOR us. If you ever feel like you need to appologize for hard work remember that if it is for us that you're working for. I know that you will have to start travelling again soon. What you need to do is save up some airline miles. I would love to show you and mom around Chile with Kerri. (In about 2-2.5 years we can try to come for the Concepcion temple dedication). I know that you don't like to travel but it would be cool to come to Chile one day with you two.
So we had 2 baptisms this last week. They are Rodrigo and Maria José. Their mom is a member who got in contact with us saying that she wanted to come back to church after being inactive since the pregnancy of her two year old son. They baptism was a little unconventional because Rodrigo is horrified of water. I would love to tell you the story but I dont think I could really do it justice in an email. Lets just say, we had to get creative and use some good team work but in the end we got it all to work out well... it just took 1.5 hours to get it to work. Maria José was baptised without a single problem but I am always going to remember this weekend for the rest of my life.
Things went really well but now we are starting back from square one. There are a lot of people we are sharing with but we need to find out who really has desires. I am really excited to see what happens this week. The zone is improving and we are really excited for the next few weeks.
Mom, I hope you know that I totally spent all of St. Patricks day explain why I was wearing a green tie and how much I was trying to talk up the holiday. In the end, I was thinking about how awesome a mint shamrock shake would be or a big bowl of cottle. For the most part we forget about those small random traditions but a lot of people started asking questions about it so that got me thinking about it. It was fun. We had a great time.
I love you all a ton and tell Cheryl congrats for being a grandma.
Love ,
Elder McNeil

Sunday, March 18, 2012

March 12th

So its a bummer that Mom couldn't write me but I know that she has a ton that needs to get done with the house there in Colorado so is fine. I know how important it is to Mom to be able to sell that house. That will be good for them to finally stop worrying about that house. I know that things will go great out there.
So don't worry about the fact that I left from one stake that I didn't know and that I'll get home to another. I knew it was probably going to happen so it really isn't a big deal at all. I am excited to meet the branch and see what it is like. Everything you have said has sounded great. I hope that everything will be ready so y'all will actually be there in the new house there by the time I get there. 
Cheryl told me about how she is going to be a grandma. I thought that was great. I hope she has as much time as possible to be there and enjoy her first grandkid. It is also great to know that grandpa is doing okay. I hope that he doesn't feel too lonely but with Bettyann there I think he should be doing okay. 
So things are going okay here in Conce. It is different than all of my other areas but that just means that I need to keep learning and growing to be able to work better here. We are going to have two baptisms this saturday that we are really excited about. They are the 9 and 8 year old kids of a woman who was inactive but asked us to work with them to get them active in the church again. We are really excited and the ward couldn't be happier. I will make sure to send you pictures of the baptism. 
So you asked for pictures. Well, I've been really bad about taking pictures recently (and writing in my journal...oops) but I promise that I will improve that and I will make sure that these last few months are well documented. 
So you mentioned a possible job change. What are they asking you to do? I was thinking about that and everytime we are offered opprotunities to learn, grow, and develop here in the mission, we are estatic. Who doesn't want to learn more or progress in new ways? I know that you are kind of sick and tired of traveling and that it might be easier to just stay where you are at but it might be good to change things up. I mean, obviosly keep praying and thinking about it but if you are willing to take advice from your snot-nosed missionary son, I say "why not?" 
Well I am a little short on time but just want to let you all know that I love you a ton and hope everything goes great for y'all this week.
Elder McNeil

March 5th

Well, things are going good. This week, I really don't have a whole lot to report. I have to admit that this sunday, our ward had the highest attendance than I think any ward I have ever heard of here in the mission. 188 people were in church! Many of those came for a baby blessing but still 160+ were active members from our ward. I really love it here in this sector. 
It has been a little rough finding people to teach. I mean, being here in the city just makes things different but things are going really well and I think that we are on the verge of finding some wonderful families. I know that this sector has all kinds of potencial, we just need to tap into it. We are working hard and we are seeing sucess in many aspects of the work and in others, we are on the verge of big breakthroughs.
This week, we got special permission from the stake president to have a meeting with the bishops in our stake to see what we need to improve as missionaries and it was impressive how some people are really conflictive about the way things need to be done in missionary work. For the most part the meeting went well except for a few bishops who were way too harsh on the missionaries in their wards (luckily the stake president and his councilers were there and they saw who was willing to work to improve the missionary work in the stake and who wasn't). I hope that doesn't sound bad. We don't have any serious problems with members here in the mission, but some times, if one missionary makes a mistake, they take it out on all of them. It is just motivation to be perfect right?
So about the mall, only half of it burnt down and last week they reopened the half that was fine. We typically can't go to the mall but we can ask members to go there and buy stuff for us. It is really nice to have pizza hut or dunkin doughnuts every once in a while. That is one of the blessings of being in "the Second Capital" of Chile. Concé is really beautiful. The people are generally nice and I can't really complain about the climate. It is really similar to the Bay Area, just a lot less polluted and with a lot less people everywhere.   
Things are going well. I am really happy that everyone is good and happy. I am also really excited to see what happens with the house. I hope things get wrapped up quickly. I want y'all to be at least a little settled by the time I get home. Well, I love you tons and hope to hear more good news next week. 

Elder McNeil

February 28th

Well this week was an improvement over the last one. My comp has a lot more excitement and we see a lot of good things happening in the zone. It is always tough when the zone is struggling but this next month we are starting off strong and we are keeping the missionaries motivated to finish even stronger. The mission is teaching a lot of these kids for the first time in their lives that hard work actually is worth the effort. Unfortunately, some missionaries still haven't learned the lesson that "just because it is hard, doesn't mean that you can relax". The one downside of being a leader in the mission is that often we have to see that bad side of missionary work (disobedience, gossip, and, for a lack of better words, stupidity). This week hasn't had too many interesting experiences and I know that this mission generally doesn't have problems, but any degree of disobedience is too much, so we have too much.
I do have an interesting story about a family we reactivated. This week the son of an inactive family we were working with got baptized. He was really excited and it was a great experience. They are now sharing the gospel with their friends. He is 8 so it technically isnt a convert but we did what the ward and family asked us to and he finally got baptized. The mom is now really excited and invited a ton of people to the baptism and a family home evening that we are going to do this week. We are really hoping to see fruits from that. 
We are also working with another less active woman who has a 9 year old son and an 8 year old daughter who are really excited to be baptized as well. I guess that I have learned more here than in any other sector that even if things are tough in the sector, you are always strengthening the stakes of zion if you are working your hardest to invite people to Christ. 
Also as I leader, I have learned that my experiences that I have had in my mission and my life have really prepared me to help the missionaries that I work with. I sometimes talk to some of my missionaries and reflect on what the Lord did for me when I was passing through the same experience. There are so many stories that I sometimes forget, all about the way the Lord has blessed me. I guess having the constant support of the Lord sometimes makes it easy to forget how much help comes from Him. 
We are teaching some great people (we need to find more but that is okay because summer vacations are ending and people are easier to find now), but more than anyone else, we are working with Daniela (the less active woman) and her two children, Rodrigo and Maria Jose. They are awesome and are a huge blessing from the Lord for us right now. 
Things are going great. In sad news, the mall here in Conce burnt down. Well not all of it but one third was destroyed. There are two more under construction here but for a really long time that was the only mall, bowling alley, and movie theater in Concepcion. (I have no idea how a city this big lasted so long with only one mall. It is a big city and there is money here.) They are going to rebuild the part that burnt down in about 9 months but millions of dollars are going to be spent on it. 
Well things are good and I am really happy to be here and hope everything is treating y'all well even though it is busy and sometimes very exhausting. Enjoy your travels and I know that things are going to be great. 
Love ,
Elder McNeil

Friday, February 24, 2012

February 20th

Well, thanks for the photos. I am really excited to meet the branch. Everything that you have said makes it sound great so I sure that it is going to be a great fit for the two of you. It is also great to see some of the progress on the house. I know you say that you don't want anything spectacular Mom, but I know you too well. The house is going to be fantastic and everyone is going to comment on it. We have never tried to have spectacular houses but they always turn out incredibly.
So things are going really well. I feel like my comp has been a little down recently because he has been feeling a little sick and feels like we have been working really hard but things haven't been falling from the sky like they always have for him in his mission. He is easily one of the missionaries who is most prone to see miracles. He is a really great guy and deserves many, many blessings, but recently it has been really hard for him. I feel like the Lord has tended to make me work a little harder in the mission before receiving blessings. Like it is said, "To those to whom much is given, much is required" is pretty much the theme of my entire mission. The Lord really knows what I am capable of and he only pours out his blessings on me if I am doing everything in my strength (as it should be).  I feel like since I've been transferred I have had to make some changes but I am now good to go and things are going well. There is a lot of potential and we are really happy to keep working hard.
So Today, we went to the zoo and it was awesome. I got to touch a tiger and we also saw a lot of cool things (the zoo here isn't very big but it was a lot of fun). Also this week we had a ward talent show where I did something a little special. We were supposed to imitate celebrities or characters, so I decided to be the Elastic Man from the fantastic four and I put 148 clothes pins on my face and did some of those things that make Mom squirm and feel uncomfortable. My comp has the pictures. The ward loved it.
So things are going great. We have been really busy but things are great. I love you all a ton and I am really excited to keep you all informed on everything that is going on here in Concé.
Well, if you want to know anything special, you can always ask questions. Sometimes I don't know what to write y'all but things are great and I hope everything y'all have to do goes well.
Love you tons,

Elder McNeil

February 13th

To be completely honest, I couldn't remember who Jessica was at first but after reflecting on the name and all of my friends from High School, I remember exactly who she is. If I remember right, here parents are Lutheran and her sister, Brittany, was in a lot of my classes and was also in band with me from freshman to senior year. (She played trumpet I think)
 I will always remember being "the Mormon" in the band. I know that I wasn't a perfect example of a member of the church. Yeah, sometimes I was prideful, yeah, sometimes I let my attitude get out of control, and yeah, it was fun to just hang out a little even if the conversations weren't quite LDS standards, but I really tried to be the best example possible. I know people who have admitted that, by knowing me, their interest in the church has grown but I find it amazing that one of the people that I least intended to impact received the gospel so well. I have a ton of other friends that I have invited to learn more since I went to BYU, but that never went very far, but it is great to know that people can often see what one cant in the way they are or they way they act.
I was really caught by surprise by that story. Thank you so much for sending it to me. Tell Sister Milne that I am speechless and astounded by what she said. I needed to hear that.
SO this week went well for us. Our investigators aren't progressing as fast as they need to be and are starting to face a lot of opposition so we are still trying really hard to find new investigators. We have a lot of great people that we are teaching and everyday we find more people who are trying to improve their lives and their relationship with God. It is incredible, the stories people tell us are heartbreaking sometimes. Often they turn to us to help them understand their trials of find ways to overcome them. It is amazing seeing how the Atonement really changes lives and allows people to change.
We also had interviews this week which are always great because we learn a lot and Pres. Humphrey really likes to keep things interesting. The mission has changed so much since I've gotten here and the mission only gets better day by day. I am just trying to keep up with all of the wonderful changes and not fall into the old habits that my senior comps taught me. Things are so much better now.  I love it!
Things are going great. I am really happy. And the package you sent arrived this morning to the office so I just got it. Cheryl told me that you are going to be hanging out with her this weekend and I suggested that all of y'all should go to Monterrey and enjoy some seafood. Also you can enjoy the bay in winter. I know it might be rainy and cold but it might be fun. Who knows, maybe you'll run into somebody you know there.
I love you all a ton and hope everything is going great.
You are awesome,

Elder McNeil

February 6th

Well yes mom I am still a zone leader if you are still wondering. Things are going great and I am really happy. I've settled into my new sector well and I really like the zone. Concepcion is really beautiful. Actually, today we got to go to Subway for the first time. They just built one close to the mission office and I got to go the for the first time with a part of my zone. Dang it was good. In  Conce, there are 3 "Lider" stores which are owned by Walmart but things are really starting to get gringo-ized with subway, pizza hut, and dominos. Those new additions have all come in the last 5 months so things are changing pretty fast. Also, there is a little bit of chatter about the temple in Conce but no official news yet, but the rumor one the street is that the groundbreaking needs to happen before I pack my bags. I'm not sure but it would be cool.
Things are going well in my sector. We are happy, healthy, and finding a lot of good people. The ward is really good here. We are doing great and the zone is improving.
So, it is good to hear that grandpa is doing well and coming to the realization that he cant do everything. I know that it must be frustrating to realize that you are old but... well... it happens.
Sorry I am a little short on time but I love y'all a ton and hope everything is treating y'all well. Mom I know you have a lot to do but take things one at a time and don't feel overwhelmed. The houses will be fine, mike and Cabrina are doing well, Kerri is happy, and I am in no rush to go home yet. The Lord will keep blessing yall, just be patient.

Elder McNeil

January 30th

So, thanks for telling me about the change in ward. I actually was
going to ask that question and I was actually asked about that by
mission secretary. So, that actually was perfect timing. Actually, it
is getting to the point where they are asking me some pretty trunky
info. I would like to remind the World that I will still be a
missionary for 5 more months and there is a lot I still have left to
do. I love the mission and I am so grateful for all of the work that I
still have the chance to do.
Talking about work that I still have left to do, I love my new sector.
I am in one of the strongest wards in all of concepcion. The sector is
named Andalien. It is on the north side of concepcion. It is
surrounded by beautiful hills and there are some really wonderful
views. It is actually a little strange because a part of the sector
looks like it is straight out of nicer parts of the bay area and then
there are some parts that are really humble. It is actually a really
cool sector. I love it.
 We actually had a baptism this weekend which was an incredible
miracle because he has been going to church with his aunt in a
different ward since he was three. His name is Lucas and he is 10
years old. The missionaries from that ward told us about him and we
talked to him and got everything prepared in one week (he came to our
ward the Sunday before I got here) and he was baptized on Saturday.
We also have other great people prepared for this month. We just need
to keep praying with faith, working hard and doing our best, and
things will keep falling into place for us.
I actually talked to the missionary who replaced me in Curico and he
was so grateful for all the seeds that I planted that they will he
reaping this month. I was a little sad to not have the chance to be
there for their baptisms but I will always be grateful for the
opportunity I had to help them receive the gospel.

I am so grateful for all
of the chances that I have been given to learn and grow. I hope you
are all doing well and I am always keeping you in my prayers.
Love ,
Elder McNeil

January 23rd

So, after having one of the toughest weeks of my mission, I just finished one of my best. Things are going really well here in Curicó now. We are still going to finish this month with only 2 baptisms as a zone, but the month of feb is going to be great. Unfortunately, there are transfers this week and I am getting sent back south to be in Concepcion. I have to admit, my time here in Curicó has been amazing. I am excited to see how Curicó continues to grow without me here. I am leaving about 5 baptisms for the missionary who is coming here to replace me so I have to admit that, even though I wont get to be the one baptizing them, I at least got the chance to help them take those steps.  The new ward is called Andalien, in the stake Andalien. It is one of the largest wards in Concepción and I am really excited to get to work there.
So I am already out of time but I need to write my mission president still. I haven´t gotten the face wash but I got all the Christmas packages. Did you get my Christmas package that I sent? 
I am so sorry that I'm out of time but I love you a ton and hope everything goes well this week. 
Love , 
Elder McNeil

January 15th

I'm already out out of time for this week. I'm sorry but I just wanted to let you know that last week was a little rough but things are improving little by little. The mission has taught me that agency is probably the most frustrating gift that Heavenly Father has given us. Agency is necessary, but I bet it is even more irritating for the Lord that His children don't follow his councils, than it is for us a missionaries who work so hard with investigators who decide the day before their baptism that they preferred their old life. The likelihood of us reaching our goal as a zone just went from unlikily to impossible and the excitment in the zone dropped Fahrenheit to Celsius and it quickly approaches absolute zero. 
I have a lot of work to do. It is actually astounding the amount of work that needs to be done to fix the problems that I have spent the last three transfers trying to repair but cant seem to find the way to do it. I love working as a zone leader but the most frustrating experiences I've had here in the mission have come from it. 
We are working hard, looking for revelation, and then working more to try to get things rolling. I ask for lots of prayers that we can get it done. I can't possibly do this work alone and we need all the prayers and help that y'all can muster. 
This next week is going to be great. We have great plans and we have been blessed with great new people to teach. This next week, we expect big things, I just cant depened on my own efforts and ideas. 
I love you all a ton and I am super happy to hear that everything is going great. You are the best. 
Elder McNeil

Sunday, January 15, 2012

January 9th

So I just moved from old to ancient in the mission. I have officially crossed the 18 month mark and that apparently makes me an old geezer. I feel exactly like I did last week so I'm not sure what all the fuss is about but the missionaries in my zone are giving me a hard time about it and I guess there isnt much i can do. 
So this week was good for us. Unfortunately we had some investigators go on vacation but we are finding and teaching new people and we are really seeing a lot of promise from many of them. Michael is progressing well. He is working hard on giving up his cigarettes and his really excited for his baptism. He will going on the young men campout next week which is going to be really good for him. We have really been doing everything possible to help him give up that problem. He is making progress and he is doing well. We are getting everything set up for the next transfer. If things go well, we are going to baptize a lot next transfer. I really hope I'm here for it all. (Transfers are 2 weeks away so dont worry about them). 
I have been really happy working with my zone. I work really hard as a zone leader and it seems like people really appreciate my efforts. I don't always see the results I would like but I think that we are seeing progress out of the missionaries and that should lead to more tangable results. The Lord knows what He wants us to learn and how to teach it to us, I just try to do everything that I am asked to do and then do as much more as possible. I really enjoy it and I feel like I am more productive here in the mission than anywhere else. The Lord really is in charge of this work and we are seeing his hand more and more as we keep working towards what He would have us do. 
Things are going well and I am happy. I have really terrible allergies which are bothering me but other than that, I cant complain about anything here in the mission. 
I love you all a ton, 
Elder McNeil

January 2nd

Well, I would like to start off saying "Happy New Year". It is now the year 2012, and, it might just be the mission bubble speaking but everything still seems exactly the same. I dont know why but I was expecting to feel older or feel strange or just feel something but another year has come without me even realizing it. It has been a great year for me. I have learned and grown a lot in these past 12 months and plan to keep up with that trend. I also think about how strange this year was. There were lots of wonderful things that happened and many less fortunate but I am just grateful that I had this year to be humbled, to be taught, and to become a better missionary. This year is now my time to shine as a instrument in the Hands of God. Obviously I'm not perfect but as I have looked over my life, I sure am a heck of a lot better now than I was a year ago and 3 years ago and 8 years ago I was a punk little snot-nosed little smart mouth. I am sorry you had to live through all of that. 
Anyway, things went well this week. We spent a lot of this week working with Andrea, Javiera, and Ignacia. They are a family who is really great who I totally would not of have even taken the risk of teaching a year ago. Andrea is a mother who is trying to quit smoking but is having a lot of success. Her two daughters are 15 and 12 and they totally were too embarazed to share with us at first but once they got to know us, they not only started listening to us because they thought we were pretty but are now very excited about their baptism in the next few weeks and they know the gospel well.
 Also we are teaching a wonderful teenager named Michael. We are also teaching his mom who is blind and had her kidneys removed and suffers from many other health problems. We showed up in exactly the right moment. Michael was starting to get involved in somethings that he shouldnt have and was getting into trouble and now he tells everyone how excited he is to get baptized. Things are going well as far as work goes. 
The zone is improving as well. We are working really hard on getting them to the level where they need to be to have success. Things are awesome.

I love you all so much and hope you all have an amazing year. (We will even be able to celebrate New Years together this year... wow that thought makes me feel dizzy and blown away). 
Elder McNeil

December 26th

So my letter is also going to be pretty short. I really enjoyed talking yesterday. It was actually great to see more people than I expected. it would have been nice if Cheryl could have been there but it was great to see everyone. I was really happy to see Kerri because I hadnt even seen a picture of her in the last 2 and a half years. 
So i woke up this morning really sick. Actually I was already a little bit sick when we were talking but now I'm feeling a little worse. My chest hurts and I was coughing up goo all night so I am going to get that all checked out. If I'm still sick tomorrow I am going to head over to the doctor. Dont let any of that worry you. Things are going well and I am really excited for this next upcoming week. I know things are only going to keep getting better. The Lord doesnt do anything to knock us down or try to restrain us. We are those who put limits upon ourselves. 
Hey sorry, I am not feeling too great to I am going to keep this short. 
I love you all and hope everything is going great.
Elder McNeil

December 19th

Well, first things first. I will be on skype at 7pm Chilean time on sunday and then we will be able to talk. We have a full hour to talk and I'm sure after the first 30 minutes i will be able to speak english mostly normal. I have a lot of stories that I could tell you all but you might need to remind me about some of them. If you can, try to remind me to tell you the story about Soledad, Carmen, and.... well, just remind me to tell you some of my fun stories. 
This week was a lot better than last. We had to deal with transfers which was a very long, and somewhat irritating process but that is what happens when you are as far away from concepcion as physically possible, but everyone arrived okay with out any real problems. Also, the division of the zone went well. The sisters who are now in the other zone were really sad because they really liked the zone  from last transfer and they got really used to us as zone leaders and having to get to know the new ones was a little sad for them. 
We found some really great, new investigators, some of which came to church and are really excited to keep progressing. We are really happy with what is happening. We needed to start to teach new people and the Lord has blessed us with a lot of new people. We are still a little disappointed to have a "dry month" this month but we are really excited for January because we know we will have some baptisms then. Curico is just a great city and the members are wonderful. I am so happy to be here right now. The only down side is that it is really, really hot right now. I am sleeping with just a single bed sheet because I am so hot at night, but hey, the heat will pass so I guess its not that big of a deal. 
So, Kerri is dating. I am really glad to hear that. That makes me the only single person in the family! Thats cool, I am gonna keep it that way for at least another 7 months! Ha, well, thats something we can be pretty certain about.
So I got another package from you. It was the one with the ties. Thanks for that. SO you might be wondering when the package I am sending to you will get there. Well.... about that... I bought the gifts but I have'nt actually had time to send them to you so I might just hold on to them as souviners for now and then give them to you later... sorry. 
So this are going great and we will talk more on sunday about everything. 
See you on sunday!
Love ,
Elder McNeil

December 12th

Well, it is great to know that you had as plesant of an experience as possible at the funeral. I've never really like funerals but it is always great to hear the wonderful stories that people have to tell about their experiences with those who have passed away. 
So this week I dont really have a lot of news to tell you. This week is transfer week but I am staying for atleast one transfer more. The only real news is that the mission is spliting the zone so I no longer have to take care of 20 missionaries. We are actually going to have two zones of 12 missionaries each and in the next few months, the mission will be opening new sectors in each zone. The missionaries are working hard and we are seeing results.
SO this week was probably one of the most disappointing of my mission. We had a number of investigators turn their backs to the church and decide to not keep progressing. We now have a very small teaching pool but now we are going to only teach gold. It was a humbling experience but now we have a new perspective on what we need to do. It is going to be hard but we are going to fix things here in the sector. It will just require a little bit of time.
This week also had some funny moments, the best of which is worth telling. So we left with a recent convert to go visit some families in our sector. We were walking and talking about our great plans and who were going to teach and we arrived at the first house. We saw that the gate was open so we politely walked into the front yard when, out of no-where the gate closed behind us. We then found out that the gate was automatic and could only be opened from inside the house. We also quickly realized that there was nobody home. We tried calling the family. They didnt answer their phones. We tried to find a way into the  house to open the gate and leave, but the house was impenetrable. I decided that it would be best to jump the fence and keep going but my comp was not going to risk it (he is a lot bigger than I am). We ended up waiting for more than an hour for some one to help (by this point in time I had already jumped the fence and working out how my comp would be able to get out). In the end, the family showed up and thought it was hysterical what happened and were really grateful that we were the people who got stuck in there and not anybody with alternative motives. That was an experience worth remembering. 
Anyway, I am sorry I dont really have any other news for you. I have decided that I am going to change my major when I go back to BYU but that still is a ways away. So things are going well. I hope you are happy and healthy and enjoy the time you will have with Mike and Kerri.
Elder McNeil

December 5th

Sorry, it is my turn to do numbers again so this will have to be a little shorter than usual. So, it is really sad to hear about uncle ken. I know that this is a really unfortunate time of year for some thing so sad to happen. I never really thought about how hard it must be to celebrate Christmas without a member of the family. When Mike and Kerri were on their missions it never really seemed to be that big of a deal, but Christmas without a child or parent is something that must be so painful. 
I am really glad to hear that is seems that everything is being handled well. I am really glad to hear how dignified he acted due to the toughness of his trials. It really is incredible what you said Dad about how he treated his calling as he was being released as a bishop.
Things are going well in Curicó. There is always a lot of work to do. I was a little sick a part of this week but you just have to work through it. There is no reason to let anything slow me down. I am going to have an entire life time to complain about how I feel and to take a day or two off work but at least here in the mission I am working off of borrowed time. 
I hope things go well during these next few weeks as you are getting things prepared for Christmas. Enjoy this time of year. There are a few houses here that have Christmas lights up but it is the middle of summer and almost a hundred degrees so it hardly feels like December. Right now also happens to be the peak of Cherry season. The cherries here just happen to be amazing but on the other hand some of our best investigators just fell of the face of the planet because they work in the processing plants. Well, we found some new people to replace them for now but we definitely going to go back and visit some of those people once their schedule clears up.  
Well, I hope you all the best. We will all miss uncle Ken but we know is already getting to work on the other side. 
I love you all a ton,
Love ,
Elder McNeil

November 28th

Well, I am glad to hear that you have been enjoy you nice, long thanksgiving vacation. I am also really glad to hear about Mike and Cabrina. I knew when I started to mission that I would hear something along the lines of them having a kid or two (twins??!!). That is going to be too much fun. One thing that is really throwing me for a loop right now is that y'all will be moving into the new house, a new nephew will be about to join the family and I will be getting hime from the mission all in the same month or so. I know that it is quite a bit down the road still but when you know, you need to tell me exactly when you will be moving in so I can tell the mission about which stake I will be released in. Ugh, I dont fell old in the mission but people sure like acting like I am. That has been a little annoying but I guess it could be much worse. 
So, things are going really well. We have a number of investigators who just need to make that last little push to get over the last hump and get baptized. During december we can have anywhere between 2 and 6 baptisms. That would be really great. I really love my sector. We are always finding really great people to teach and the people have been really recpetive these past few weeks. Now we just have to get them over the last little bit of opposition so they can get baptized, which seems to be harder for me now than in the past. I feel like these last few weeks have required me to be the best possible missionary possible. Better than I've ever been before. I won't lie, I feel like I dropped the ball in a few situations and I have made some mistakes, like all missionaries do, but I never stop learning. I've learned to not beat myself up over my mistakes but that doesn't mean that I've lowered my standard of excellence. 
We are teaching a really great couple named Rogelio and Marioli. They are 24 and married and everytime I teach them, it reminds me of Mike and Cabrina. They are a very young married couple that are trying to establish themselves in Curicó. It would be good if you could pray from them. They came to church yesterday and they liked it and I would love to see them baptized as soon as possible. 
Transfers are in two week but there are already some rumors and plans about what president wants to do in Curicó and I'm not sure how much more time I will be working with the investigators that I have been working with for the past 2.5 months. It would be great to see some of the baptized before transfers.   
So, it is really sad to hear about Ken but I think it is the right thing for all of you to do. Martin will be back out in the mission field soon enough but he needs to be there with his family. I hope that you will be able to take your trip to Japan and Taiwan soon but you need to be with the family. Also, I would like to thank Kerri for writing me. It was really nice to hear from her.
Sorry, I dont really have any more time but I love you all a ton and hope everything goes super well this week.
Elder McNeil

November 22nd

Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy the turkey and football and... Disneyland? Well, that seems like a step up from the Hill Country Hyatt. Let me know how Disney does Thanksgiving, I really want to know. (Mikey Mouse shaped Turkey?)
Well, this week's letter wont be as long or as detailed as last week's (It was my turn to send in the zone's numbers again and I still need to write my mission president), but things are going great like always. I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but I have never, ever been as tired as I have been as a missionary. Things are always wonderful and generally work out like we want them too but when I sleep, I pass out! I know that was really random, but it is true. I actually want to know if Mike and Kerri felt the same way or if that is just me. 
We had a really good experience this week going out to a more rural part of our area called Rauco. Rauco is one of the areas that the mission is planning on opening in the near future. We went out to see what it was like and to do a few visits. The area is beautiful. It is surrounded by gorgeous hills and we taught some really wonderful people there.
It is really cool being a missionary at this moment in time. I feel like we are on the verge of seeing incredible changes in the world of missionary work. The missionaries that are arriving are a heck of a lot better than I will ever be, they are more prepared and I expect to see incredible amounts of growth here in the mission and in the world. I am really glad that I get the chance to take part in all these interesting new changes. 
Well, I would love to have Martin's email so I could shoot him a quick email. I understand how hard things must be right now for him but the Lord always knows whats best. We cant change his will, so the best possible alternative is to accept it. I know that all things happen for a reason and that everything will work out for the best. I will keep Uncle Ken and Martin in my prayers. 
Tell Kerri to write me! It has been a very long time since I've recieved anything from her. I need to know how she's doing! ALSO.... there is no way she can even think about getting serious with anyone without atleast telling me his name, were he is from, or any of that other stuff that people like to know about the people who are dating thier siblings. And if she even thinks about getting married before I get home from the mission... Oh my goodness, will there be some problems. Sorry about that little rant, tell Kerri that she needs to write me ASAP! 
Also, how's the house?
Well next week, I have to go to another meeting in Chillán so you might not get my email until a little later in the day. 
Well, I love you all a ton and will keep you informed on everything here in Chile.
Love ,
Elder McNeil

Novmenber 15th

Well, I am sorry that I forgot to tell you last week that i wouldnt be sending you a letter until Tuesday this week. We had a crazy, crazy week. So I mentioned that special mission conference that we were going to have. Well, we had it. We chartered a bus to take all of the missonaries from Curicó and Talca (47 in all) down to Concepcion becuase we were going to have a "special guest". We got on the bus a midnight, and started the five hour ride down. We slept on the bus and at 6.30 went into the stake center in Conce. The mission bought Dunkin Doughnuts for everyone and then we freshened up and sat anxiously in the chapel to see who would arrive. The doors opened and Elder Quentin L Cook and his wife walked in. He was with Elder Richards of the Area presidency, his wife and president Humphrey. I have never seen so many missionaries quickly brush off any lint and fix thier hair all at once. We wanted to look nice!
Elder Cook shook each of our hands and talked to us about many different things, but what really struck me the most was what he said about how missionaries are "Branch/Ward Builders". He told a story about an experience he had recently in Vietnam, where the church will have missionaries in the near future. When the Vietnamiese officials asked what the missionaries would do, Elder Cook said that their purpose is to "build branches" which then in turn bless the people around them. The officials where so struck with what he said that they said that they would love to have missionaries there in the thier furture. That really hit me. My sector here in Curicó is gigantic. There is actually a plot of land that the church has purchased in a part of the area for a chapel when there are enough members to split the unit. Right now we need to increase attendance in chruch from about 140 every sunday to about 250+ members to build that chapel and split the ward. I am working my heart out in that part of our sector because every time I walk past that plot of land, I see the chapel that will be built there one day. I see families walking to that chapel with thier children, the youth playing soccer, and the relief society carrying materials to can peaches and strawberries. I dont think I have ever had a vision so clear of what the outcome of my work can and should be. We are working really, really hard. We are find golden investigators. Heck, if they aren't golden, we arent teaching them! I really feel like I am putting my heart into this sector and the future I see is beautiful. It wont be easy but I want to do everything I can to be a "Ward Builder". Actually in this stake, in the past 10 months we have baptized what is equivalant to a ward of 135 or so people. We are also seeing a higher retention rate than anywhere else I've been in the mission. If the mission Chile Concepción has a city of Zion, I'm in it and it is beautiful.
Anyway, more about me personally. We had a wonderful baptism on sunday. Her name is Angie and she is 12. She lives with her Grandparents who were baptized in Santiago about 13 years ago. Her grandparents have been inactive for a few years but about 4 months ago they moved here to Curicó. Last month, we were doing some tracting and we saw two girls walking towards us. We stopped them to ask if they knew a less active family in that street. They didnt, but Angie told us that we needed to pass by her house and share with them. Since then, the grandpa has changed jobs so he can attend church more often, his wife is making many efforts to read the scriptures and pray and Angie has started become a key member of the Young womens program of the ward. Sunday just happened to be Stake Conference and President Humphrey came to speak in the meeting. He heard about our baptism and was really excited to see it. Our bishop acted particularly profession during the baptism and President then gave a special message afterward. It was amazing.
Monday (yesterday) we had interviews which was wonderful as well. There are many changes coming in the mission. In the next 4.5 months the amount of missionaries in the mission will increase by 30 or so. Our job right now is to prepare things for when those missionaries arrive. We have to prepare a lot of sectors that will be opening soon and taking some time to visit some pueblos and small cities to make lists of future investigators for when missionaries arrive. We have a lot of work to do but I find myself just smiling and loving it all. I was taught by my trainer that "in the mission, not everyday is going to be Christmas" which is a valid thought but that doesnt mean that I can't pretend it is.
So I got one of the packages that y'all sent. I was really grateful for the socks, and the face wash. As a side note, I bought some Dr Pepper this week and a supermarket here in Chile called Jumbo. Wow, I really forgot how good it is. We actually got together as a zone today and we made Dr Pepper Floats (there wasnt any Root beer left there so we went ahead with the best alternative). I really hope everything goes well this week and that you can prepare everything this week so you can all relax and enjoy your Thanksgiving. I love you all a ton.
Love ,
Elder McNeil

November 6th

Well, I never heard anything about any protests. For the most part, the news I get here has to do with natural disasters and/or some students protesting in Santiago. For the most part, things have been pretty tranquilo but thanks for letting me know that yall are doing well.
So, Grandma isnt doing very well? Well, I'm really not surprised but I think she will be able to adjust fairly well. Mom thanks for being a trooper and doing this for your parents. Commandment Five of the Ten does leave you the promise that if you honor your parents, your days will be lengthened on the Earth. I know that Mike and Kerri are seeing what you are doing and it means a lot to us. We will always remember the way the both of our parents took care of thier parents and we will always try to live up to your examples. 
SOOOOOOO.... As far as news from here in the mission. My new comp is named Elder Carvajal and he is from Antafogasta Chile (that is almost as far North as people live). He is one of the first generation of the 18 year old missionaries that are serving here in Chile. He is actually a rapper and a semi-pro basketball player here in Chile. He has a lot of energy and is just a really good guy. Once he is trained and has a little bit of experience here in the mission, he is going to be an awesome leader.
This week we had a wonderful baptism. Carmen got baptised which was awesome and she was so happy. I sent a photo of us at her baptism. Also, this next week we are expecting another baptism of a teenager named Angie. Things are going great. This next upcoming week we are going to have to do quite a bit of finding people because our teaching pool is kind of stale but we having a great time. The ward is excited to work with us because of the success they've been seeing and we are going to keep working as hard as we can. I want to really help this ward and I feel like I am seeing some great things happening and we should be seeing more success down the road.
So, I'll let yall know about when I get those packages. I am just about as far away as possible from the office of the mission but if you just sent them I'll be getting them soon.
This thursday a General Authority is coming to the mission which is going to be great. President says that there is a 50 percent chance that an Apsotle will speak. We were actually put in charge of chartering a bus to take three zones down to Conce for the meeting. Actually, we had to pay a little bit up front so if you notice that I took some money out of my bank account it was to help 50 missionaries get down to see a General Authority and the mission will pay me back. I just wanted to let yall know so you didnt think I was buying a bunch of crazy stuff.
So I love yall a ton. Hope yall can get back to San Jose as soon as possible. 
Love ,
Elder McNeil

October 30th

Well, another transfer has come and gone. I have successfully finished my first cambio as a zone leader (and might I say, it was interesting). This might come as a shock to you all but I am going to train again. I am going to be a zone leader and a trainer and Elder Miller, the other zone leader is going to be doing the same thing. President has shown a lot of confidence in us and it shows. Both of the zone leaders training at the same time is almost unheard of. It has been a great few weeks and Pres is really liking what we are doing. Elder Davis was a great companion but now I get to have another son. It is going to be a lot of work but I now understand that the Lord hasn't been taking risks in asking me to do things, but that He understand very clearly what He wants and how to get it done. I just have to DO it. 
So this upcoming week we are going to have a baptism. I am really excited. Her name is Carmen. She has had many, many miracles that have helped her prepare to be baptized. We are also thinking that it will be really great for her 23 year old daughter who has been reading the gospel priciples book with carmen, and loves it, but has been a little too shy to share with us. We also have some other really great investigators who are going to be getting baptized in the next few weeks. I swear this sector is blessed! The Lord wants us to have a lot of success here. It is going to be a good place to train again. 
I am really loving the mission right now. I have no complaints, expect the heat, but it is only gonna get hotter. The ward is great. My converts are staying active. Also, next week we are having an all mission conference which only happens when there is a "Special Guest" and we are getting really excited for that. 
I love all a ton and hope everything goes well for you this week. I especially hope that you Mom can get back home as soon as possible. 
Elder McNeil

October 24th

So this week I bought a new memory card adaptor so I can actually send you photos this week. I know its been a long time but with as crazy as being a missionary is, sending your family photos gets put on the back burner. I'm sorry its been such a long time but I think you are really going to like the pictures. Some are from my old sector in Lirquén and a then there are a few newer ones from here in Curicó. You will see this pcitures and realize that I really am in the most beautiful place in the world!
Anyway, this week was really great. We have been able to really get this sector on its feet and it sure is going! The Lord really is blessing us with great people to teach and I am really happy with all the wonderful things that have been happening. We are going to have at least 2 baptisms in the next three weeks and it is also pretty likely that we will have 5 in the month of November. The Lord wants his missionaries to have success which is why we keep seeing miracles everyday.
So unfortunetly this week, it was my turn to do numbers again so I don't have much time left but I really want to let you know how much I love the mission. I know that right now the family is stressing out about Uncle Ken and Grandma and Grandpa Brew and also Grandpa McNeil but I feel like if I was there, things would be much more difficult for the entire family. Unfortunetly, when I finish the mission, we wont have any of those blessings that come to families with missionaries serving. I love it here, I love this work, don't worry about me or ask yourselves if I'm happy. I am very, very happy. 
As far as package stuff. I need face stuff and I was thinking beef jerky would be nice but I'm not picky. Send me whatever you want and it will be good enough for me. I love you all a ton.
Love ,
Elder McNeil

October 17th

So I got the package that you had sent me for halloween. Thanks for the candy and the Mr. Potatohead stuff. I really liked the stuff Kerri sent me from the other side of the world. Thanks for getting all of that for me for a random holiday. It was awesome.

So this week, we have seen a ton of miracles. We had a baptism this weekend which was probably the most spiritual baptism I have ever been to. We are also finding people who are super prepared to recieve us. I have some really good feelings about different things we are going to do in our sector and I think that we are going to keep seeing amazing things happening here everyday. We still have along way to go. I know that my sector needs to be a model for the rest of the zone and right now it is getting there but there is still much more that needs to happen for the sector to really be the way it needs to be. I am really greatful that the Lord puts us where He wants us to be. I cannot explain some of the things that have been happening here in this sector. We are just seeing marvilous things happening because the Lord really does direct this work. I know what the Lord wants from me and I know that it isn't going to come without passing through some trials but I am really excited to keep up the hard work and get things done. 
Sorry if this letter seemed short. I actually am not rushed or anything, i just feel like I've said what needs to be said. I am really happy and I can't wait to get back to work and see some more miracles happening around me. I love you all a ton and hope you forgive me for such a short letter.
Love ,
Elder McNeil 

October 10th

So I am getting a lot better at managing my time as a zone leader. I don't have a ton of time to write yall but I at least have enough. We had a really interesting week. We saw a lot of blessings and also quite a few challenges but that is to be expected in the mission. We are going to have a baptism this week which is really exciting! Soleded is the mom and soon to be mother in law of some recent converts here in the ward and she is really excited for her baptism this week. We also are working with some other really wonderful people and it is going to be great to see them start to progress. I really love the ward here. They are really wonderful people and I love getting the chance to work with them.
Today we went and saw probably one of the most beautiful waterfalls I have ever seen. It is called Siete Tazas and is a series of pools connected by waterfalls. We also did some pretty cool hikes as a zone. We had decided that we want to have a really spritual experience on this trip so we told everyone to separate and pray in the forest around the waterfall. If going to the mountains and praying worked for the Prophets of Old, we thought why couldn't it help the zone be a little stronger. It totally felt like a "Waters of Mormon" moment and a lot of the missionaries were really grateful for the moment to really stop and feel the spirit. It was a really cool day. I am going to try and send pictures next week if I get the chance. 
So, I actually dont have my passport with me so I need to look that up and send it to you later but my diver's license number is F1752321. You might want to look around the house to see if you find a copy of my passport, you just have to make sure its my new one. The one I have now expires in 2020 if you are looking for that copy. I will try to send the number later this week but I really am not sure if I will have the time to do so. Will you have to send me a new card? Will I be able to use the card I have right now?
I also don't want you to get too worried about Christmas packages but if you will be sending me anything soon, I need more face stuff and I would also really like some good socks. I dont really want anything specific as far as food goes but a thing of beef jerky never hurts anyone. I dont think i'll be needing anything else that I can't buy here so dont go over the top with anything.
I love you all a ton and hope you are all doing really well.
Elder McNeil

October 3rd

So this week, I don't have to send in numbers so I have a lot more time to write you today. So, my first two weeks as zone leader have been really great. I have learned a lot about leadership in just a little bit of time. One of the most important things has been to love the people you are working with enough to let them make thier own decisions. I was really tired last week because we, as zone leaders, were trying way to hard to take care of everyone else's sectors, but after a little bit of training from more experienced missionaries and President, we started to take a very different approach to leadership. Yes, we are responsible for the zone but we need to focus primarily on setting a good example, strengthening our sector, then focusing on the district leaders and let them do the same for thier districts. In a zone of 22 missionaries, we can't do it all, but we don't have to.
So I am in really great ward called Bombero Garrido in a city named Curicó. It is hot and it is only spring which means that our summer is going to be an adventure. My comp is named Elder Davis and he is from Arizona. He only has about 6 months in the mission. I am actually not companions which the other Zone Leader which is interesting. HIs name is Elder Miller and is from Washington state and we live in the same house together which is great. I love living with other missionaries. It makes the mission a heck of a lot more interesting.
We have seen a ton of miracles in the our sector in the past few days which has been brilliant. I am now convinced, and the talks from conference affirm, that I have truly been foreordained to work with the people here in Curicó (investigators and missionaries). A woman named Agustina contacted us on the streets the other day and she has been passing through some really tough problems in her life but testifying to her about the Atonement and the Plan of Salvation brought a new light into her eyes and I see hope coming from her and her children. We also have another investigator named Soledad who has shared with missionaries for years but when she met me, she knew I was the missionary she has been waiting for all of this time and she is preparing to be baptized next week. 
I loved conference! So has Mike talked about children yet? There were a few very direct talks about the family and raising children (Sister Dalton calling the fathers to be more virtuous was probably the most direct and pointed talk I've ever heard a Sister give in conference. I was speechless). Also, there were a ton of great talks about missionary work. I loved the talk Elder Holland gave during priesthood. If I wasn't on the mission right now, that talk definetly whould have motived me to shape up and serve. I know you have a few more years to prepare for your mission but please prepare well, starting now if you haven't already. Also, how about those new temples!?!?! Another temple in Provo, the Congo, South Africa, Colombia, Paris... and Star Valley? It was a wonderful conference, one I don't think I will ever forget. We actually were having some techinical problems with the satilite so we watch conference in the family history center of the Stake center with 12 grinfos huddled around a single computer monitor to watch conference in english. That is something I wont forget... ever! I love the mission, even with all of its challenges, it is so good for everyone involved.
So I love you all a ton and really hope that everything goes well with everything you have to do. Mom good luck with the Halloween party. Hopefully everything turns out well with the house and that everything goes well for you in all that you are doing.
I love you all a lot and hope this letter finds you well.
Love ,
Elder McNeil