Monday, July 30, 2012

July 25, 2012 (Lima MTC)

Hola mi familia!

Wow I bet you didnt think that i was going to be writing you so quickly eh¿ Holy cow I just realized that these keyboards are in Español... so if you see some weird characters you can blame it on el donde de lenguas :)

The flight to Peru was very long, (Seven hours!) but it seemed to pass by quickly. I was able to sit by a man on our connecting flight to Atlanta. He was a very niceguy from Virginia, I was hoping for a chance to speak about the gospel, but the oportunity didn{t seem to present itself so we parted ways before I could mention anything about the church. Later, while I was sitting on our other flight to lima, I was able so sit closer to a few of the other missionaries in our flight group. They were so bold about sharing the gospel! I realized that I just needed to take a leap of faith and begin to share, we don{t come on our missions to make pleasant conversation, we come to share the gospel! Which is boss, but its also a little scary. Anyway, I began to jump into a couple of conversations and immediatley I knew that this was what I was supposed to be doing. Most people weren{t super receptive, but we had some good discussions and at least shared what we knew to be the truth (sowing seeds baby). There was one guy we were talking to who was from lima, he had grabbed some sick lids from the states and was trying to be cool, but the moment one of the Elders in our travel group (elder frampton) began to talk to him it was evident that he was interested! Elder Frampton gave him some foyettas (pamphlets) and began to explain the church to him. He need help with words frequently and I was totally able to help him. I´ve come to realize that I am one of the best Spanish speakers here (besides the natives of course) which really surprised me because I thought that I was terrible back in Provo. The guy said that he would check out the church in Lima and we were all VERY happy about that.

When we landed in Lima, the plane descended through some really thick fog. We couldn´t see the city until we were probably only a couple thousand feet above the ground. It was night time but you could see that there are a lot of people living here. We landed and went through imigration (I had to explain to the hombre at the kiosk that I was here with a religious visa, not a temporary tourist visa.) He kept asking "tourist sí¿" and I was like, " NO! Religioso vea aqui!" Pointing at my visa stamp. Eventually he figured it out and i was able to make it through.
The airport was really very nice, super inviting, lots of advertisements for American products like Sprite and Samsung products Hyundai cars etc. But! It was totally hilarious, the only songs they were playing in the little airport shops were "hips don´t lie"  and " livin´the vida loca" and old 80´s rock like " we built this city on rock n´roll" Idk it was just funny

Then we loaded up on some big tour buses ( i think all in all about 30 missionaries were able to get their visas and come) and drove to the CCM. It was about a 45 minute drive to the CCM and our driver drove like a crazy person. It was so interesting to see the city though.  Its not a very pretty part of the city we drove through. lots of old apartment/shops. They all look the same, and they are definitely not in good condition. Some of them have collapsed roofs, and the side streets that i could see while we were speeding by looked pretty sketch. Interesting though, tons of houses have Peruvian flags on top of their crumbling roofs, lots of patriotism here in Peru.
Well we got to the CCM and crashed, From what I have seen, and the breakfast we had this morning, its pretty nice here! I had to get my hair cut, which was odd because I got my hair cut in Provo 4 days ago, but that was ok, she tried to go over it with clippers and couldn´t grab any hair.

What else what else, Oh! my companions name is elder Milan¿ I think, I forgot my shcedule in the room. He is from Chile and I have said three words to him maybe. But he seems very nice. I felt so bad last night, crawling into bed at 2:30 and I have the squeakiest bed so he was probably super bugged. But Im sure that we will become good amigos in the future!

Im sorry to everyone that i wasn{t able to respond too in provo, you are going to have to wait for a little while to get a letter from peru, but let it be known I love you all very much!

One great thing here is that the marine layer is present for most of the day, so its not very bright. There is still some irritation in my eye when I look into the light. I took my last steriod drop today and I hope that my pupil will continue to close up over these next 6 semanas so the bright sun in Cusco isn{t to bothersome.

K i have to go, but a few quick things,  packages are no bueno here, so pls dont send packages until i get to the field. Besides that I love you! my Pday is Wed. talk to you soon

elder Neff

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Provo MTC pictures week 3.

Provo MTC pictures week 1 and 2.

These are pictures from Sam's first two weeks in the MTC.  Although  the eye picture looks very scary, we want you all to know that his eye is looking much better now.  It is no longer bloody, and besides his pupil being more dilated than the other eye, looks quite normal.  We are hopeful that his eye will continue to improve. :)

Friday, July 20, 2012

July 20, 2012

Wow hello family! I have a lot of awesome things to tell you this week, you all better be excited.
Ok I'll give you a little update about my ojo. Dad thank you for your letter, it helped me so much this week. I just returned from the doctor about 3 hours ago. We have the go ahead to send me to PERU! HALLELUJA! I am so excited and so happy that I get this opportunity, the Lord is surely sending a LOT of blessings my way. In terms of what dr meyers thinks will happen with my eye. He says that all-in-all it looks like it is on the right track to an excellent recovery. I am still pretty light sensitive because my pupil will take some time to heal. Right now, we really don't know how long that will be, or how much my pupil will be able to dialate in the future. BUT, he is confident that it won't be too bothersome, and I have felt pretty good about it, so I think that everything is going to be just peachy. (Which is good because Cusco is kinda bright from what I hear!) The only thing we need to watch out for is a possible glaucoma, which he says is not likely at all, and if I do end up having anything like that, the opthamology in Lima is sufficient to get me some help. Honestly though, that isn't going to happen so everyone back home stop worrying your pretty little heads and lets talk about some exciting things!
I feel bad that I haven't even been able to express just how FUN this entire experience in Provo has been, both spiritually and just plain entertaining. My district is full of the most hilarious people! I want everyone to get a little taste of that so I am sending home pictures and videos (hopefully the SD card doesn't fall out of the envelope like last time, I have lost all of my faith in the United STates Postal Service). These people are some of the funniest people I have ever met! I think I will remain very good friends with many of them, even though we have only known each other for a few weeks. (Please include the pictures and videos to the blog if you can! Then send me the SD card, don't worry i still have another one) MANY people took a picture of my eye when it was in its bad state as well, so at some point we can get those on the blog and everyone can get a looksy at those :)
Next, thank you EVERYONE! For the things you have sent me, I am making the other Elders in my district so jealous eating brownies and drawing in coloring books! We had a chips and queso party the other day, it was a real FIESTA! Thank thank you a million thank you's to my wonderful aunt Kristen! Chips and queso is something like the elixar of life for missionaries. I want all you to know I am doing so well, physically now as well as emotionally. However, it might be worth it to break an arm or something if I could get some more attention :) (only kidding)
I love having so much time and opportunity to study the gospel (mom and dad you know i love that). The MTC is incredible for that reason. It's also difficult! Its a struggle to keep personal study from turning into nap time! Beleive it or not though, I don't feel that tired. There is something so exciting about about doing missionary work that is so difficult to explain, I think you just have to be there!
We teach our Maestros as progressing investigators a couple days out of the week. This is hard. We have, since the third day here, taught about nine lessons I think. At about lesson five, it clicked. They work so hard here at the MTC to make this a very realistic experience. We have had senarios ranging from super excited to learn about the gospel, to one of my maestros pretending to have just woken up from a nap and having really no desire to learn (seriously his impersonation was so funny I thought I was going to start laughing during our door contact). But in every experience the spirit is there, we know what we are teaching is true, and our teaching skills (and spanish) continue to improve every time we teach.
Tuesday I fly to Peru! I think dear elder still works, so if you want to catch me fast send me something that way. But, close friends who send me letters, you know who you are! Please continue to do so if you can, I know the time between responses is hard, but getting a hand written letter is like a breath of fresh air, I would love it if you would all continue writing me.
Times up, but lots of love and I'll talk to you next week.
con mucho amor
Elder Neff

Saturday, July 14, 2012

July 14, 2012

In Sam's letter, we didn't really get any information about his latest trip to the Dr.  However, Sam's eye doctor, Dr. Myers called this morning and left Greg a message. I played it several times and transcribed it (mostly).  See below.

Dr. Meyers:

Sam was seen in my office on Thursday.

He is doing great.  Having no pain. Vision is very clear.

Eye is healing so well. That I took him off of 3 of the 4 eye drops.

Pupil looks good, rounding out and healing nicely.

All blood is cleared out. He couldn’t be better.

Healing much faster than I anticipated and much better than  I anticipated.

I continue to hope that he will be just great.  I will see Sam again next week.

I have high hopes that there will be very little sign that he was ever injured.  He is healing fine.

Rest assured that he is really healing nicely.

Thank you all for your fasting and prayers.  We are so grateful to you all and to our Heavenly Father and His tender mercies.  May the Lord's blessings be with you for your sacrifices and prayers in our behalf.


(It is Greg's birthday today and this is the best present that he could have gotten!)

Friday, July 13, 2012

July 13th, 2012 "CRAZAY WEEK"

Ok there is so much to say that the introductions have to be very short, so please bear with me as a try to thank people, and if you are not mentioned i still love you.
This has been a very hard week, thank you for your love and support, I have heard from a LOT of people. Just getting a letter during this time has been an awesome thing to recieve, I'm grateful to know you are thinking about me!
Thank you for fasting for me, I am so grateful for your added faith to those of us here at the MTC. We are fasting today for my eye, we have faith that it can be made well and that I can continue to serve my mission healthy and able. Thank you for the packages! Thankyou for everything. Love you all.
Ok here is the story, please put this letter on the blog, I am going to send home my SD card so you can put photos on the blog as well. 
Tuesday we were playing basketball in the gym.  We weren't playing competitively, we were obeying all the rules, I went to block a Elder in by district as he tried to make a lay up, Im not sure exactly what happened, but his left middle finger flew up into my right eye. I ran of the court holding my eye, honestly it didn't hurt that bad after the initial hit, I think that can be attributed to adrenaline. It took awhile for my vision to come back, and when it did, there was a fuzzy ring around the area where my eye would focus.  It was wierd, but i decided that it would go away in time. When we returned from gym, my companion suggested we get my eye checked out. When I arrived for my check up at the medical center here at the MTC, they immediately said I needed to see an optometrist as soon as possible. This is when i started to be afraid. My vision had not improved, and the bruise on the white of my eye was starting to hurt very badly.  I had to wait an hour for the shuttle and my appointment, and honestly it was the longest hour of my life! Eventually we arrived at the medical office though, and I went in for my appointment. The Doctor ( Dr. Myers) Checked out my eye and gave my the low down.  The while of my eye had a very bad laceration on it, but that would heal just like any other skin tissue, so that wasn't the issue.  The problem was with the muscle that surrounds the iris, it had torn in three places.  He proceeded to tell me that his tissue did not heal very well, and that it would be likely that I would have impaired vision, distorted pupil shape, increased sensitivity to light, etc. He then told me that we needed to dialate my eyes to see if my retina and lense had been damaged, if they had I would need surgery. He left the room for a moment and I just started to bawl. I have never felt so devastated in my entire life, I never thought that my MTC experience would come with a physical impairment i would carry with me for the rest of my life.  While I was sitting in my chair, a phrase in spanish kept popping into my head, that phrase was Esta Bien, meaning ( at least to me in that moment) It is ok.  Eventually I said that out loud to my companion, and we proceeded to wait for the doctor to return. When he returned and examined my eye again, he breathed a sigh of relief and said that the internal parts of my eye had not been damaged. He perscribed four different eye drops to be taken at four different times during the day ( ya its pretty ridiculous) and sent us back.
I never expected this next part to happen, and I would call it one of the sweetest experiences of my life up to this point. While we were waiting for the MTC shuttle in the lobby of the medical center, a man began to talk to us. It was apparent that he was physically impaired, in many ways, he commented about my new sunglasses ( ya because my eyes are dialated i get to wear sunglasses around the mtc i am the sickest Elder EVER!) I said, ya i have some eye problems now i guess haha. He asked us how I got hurt, so i explained that we were missionaries playing basketball when it happened. He said " you are missionaries? Will you give me a blessing?" we were a little taken back, but we agreed.
We walked to a secluded place in the building, we couldn't find an empty room so we sat down in a stairwell.  He proceeded to tell us the difficulties he had in his life, that he was impaired and could not provide for his family, that they had lost trust in him. He was very discouraged, we could tell. He also told us that he felt his grandmother's presence and that she helped him through every day ( he had no living person who was around often enough to give him a lot of comfort) So, armed with this knowledge ( and pretty intimidated) I laid my hands on his head.  The spirit became so strong the second I began the blessing, I knew exactly what to say.  I told him that his heavenly father was grateful for his sacrifices, especially those that were physical. I told him that if he continued to have faith through his trials, he would have the ability to provide for his family and gain trust in them once again. I also told him that his grandmother loved him and wanted him to know that she was watching over him.
After the blessing, he shook my hand with tears in his eyes and said, "I feel like you know exactly who I am" We replied that it was the spirit! It honestly was the spirity, I never would have said things so bold had i not been prompted too.
My companion and i have since realized that we were meant to be in that medical center for a reason, despite the unfortunate circumstance. I am grateful that I was able to the hands of the lord, even in my time of need. That was enough to console me through this trial.  I have recieved a wonderful blessing of healing, my companion, in the blessing said " you will have the faith to be healed." I know that I can be healed, I believe in the power of the priesthood, and that I can be made whole again and serve my mission. 
I love you all! put this on the blog, tell people about it, friends neighbors, the lax parents aunts and uncles, tell laura and john pinnock, my friends parents everyone! I love you all som much, sorry this is jumbled there is no time left.  Continue to pray for me, I will talk to you nxt week.
Con mucho Amor
Elder Neff

Saturday, July 7, 2012

July 7th, 2012

Hey what is up mi familia! I am very excited to write the first letter of many, and give you some info on how the MTC or (CCM en Espanol) is going.
Well, it was pretty tough getting dropped off when Dad was bawling his eyes out! Holy cow I wasn't expecting that. The rest of the day continued in the exact same fashon, it was all so overwhelming! We went through a room where we recieved our badges, ministerial certificates, and other missionary stuff. Then we had a meeting with all the new Elders and Sisters, there were alot of us, (something like 400) the missionaries came from all over the world, even mainland China if you can believe that. We also had our first class, and yes, the instructor spoke only Espanol.  Surprisingly I could understand most of the things that he said, but when it came down to responding my only response was... uuuuuhhhhhhhh....... no se? Ya it has been very tough trying to learn Spanish. I pray for the gift of tongues mucho mucho todos dias. My companion is Elder Limon from Gilbert Arizona, serving in the Lima North mission which he tells me is mostly jungle.  He is da best guy! I love being his comp, we get along so well. His Dad is from Mexico, but he looks nothing like a mexican, in fact, he is whiter than I am.  His mom is Caucasian and he tells me he got all of her white genes, this is true.
There were some serious perks to the first day though, I was able to meet up with a couple of excellent Elderes that I missed very much.  Those were none other than Elder Thatcher! Elder Marsh! Elder Brewer and Larson and sisters Pace and Diedrich and Elder MCPHEE!! It was incredible to see those guys I was so happy! They are doing great, having a blast, Mason speaks Russian which I love.
At the end of the first day I remember laying in bed and thinking, "holy cow, this is real, this is real, Im going to be doing this stuff for two years!" No one in my room could sleep, I could hear people tossing and turing for hours,we were all just overwhelmed with the idea that we had begun our missions. however the second day was much better so I'll tell you about it.
Getting up at six thirty was not that difficult! If you can believe that. I am very grateful that I took a shower the night before because the line for the showers was epically long. It was nice to actually have a decent breakfast at a decent time. Holy cow p.s. the food here is MUY BUENO I LOVE IT SO MUCH I get to have chocolate milk for every meal, in fact, I get to have any assortment of wonderful food and drink that I can think of. Honestly the only limit is my imagination, its amazing. Im sad I missed out on the Cannon Center this year, but it is probably a good thing becuase I would be morbidly obese if I had that temptation. 
After breakfast we went to this workshop/devotional type deal, this was when my MTC experience started to take a 180 degree turn from, "holy crap Im terrified" too, "Yes this is going to be the best two years EVER!" The speaker was a man named brother Tanner, his message to us was that our mission is not about us, in the sense that we are not meant to be the main focus of the investigator, or rather, we are not meant to be there main focus.  Our job is to bring that person closer to their Heavenly Father. When he said that I felt the spirity very strongly, testifiying to me that this was the reason missions are served. It sounds simple, but in the wake of and overwhelming first day and sleepless night, this was a welcome revelation as to what my purpose was in serving a mission.  This knowledge has helped me to cope with these first two days.  Also, the realization that hard things prepare us for greater blessings, and that our heavenly father wants us to trust in him enough to endure those trials before we recieve our witness. 
So the experience is turning out to be awesome.  Elder Limon and I only have a few weeks here before we ship off to Peru so we are going to make the most of these three weeks.  Today we teach our first lesson, honestly i don't know how they expect us to do that because I can speak very little spanish. I know the Lord is going to help me to do it. I have the faith! Pray for me, I pray for you :) I miss you all ready.
XOXOXOXOXO lots of love!    Elder Neff

Friday, July 6, 2012

Sam enters the MTC...

Yesterday Elder Samuel Neff entered the MTC.
There were fewer tears than expected, because we are so proud and excited for him.  
Here he is, giving us one last unsure "thumbs up" as he begins his two-year mission.