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. ConcĂ© 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