Wednesday, August 29, 2012

August 29, 2012

Ok I need to get so much better at spending more time emailing my family, but here we go another weekly update from the faraway land of PERU!

Seeing that this is the last week here in the MTC, I would like to just recount a couple of awesome experiences and regular occurrences that happen here at the MTC in Peru. I have had so much fun playing soccer everyday, getting schooled by these little latino kids who somehow can carry the ball through a group of 6 Americans with hardly any problem at all. I love the people already and i am excited to finally get the opportunity to really serve them in one week! I love getting the opportunity to head out into the city every p-day and saturday, crammed in a bus where i have no option but to stand (because my legs are to long and i cant fit in the seats) with my head bent down because the ceiling of the bus is like 5 feet high! I getting a million hugs and salutations from all these latino missionaries who look up to us Americans.  Our first week our teachers told us that we would have to be an example to these new latino missionaries, and boy was that true! Most of them have never been in a situation whith a bunch of other kids there same age crammed in a small space ( ie the college dorm situation) So the first week they arrive usually entails a lot of whooping and hollering and running down the halls, playing crazy games and other things. After they get calmed down though we can all concentrate and get back to work.

My time here at the MTC has been so short, but it has been so precious. I'm not sure I ever imagined missionary work would be quite like this. The biggest surprise that has hit me in my time here, is the seriousness of the work. I think that often we forget the importance of the gospel as we live it every day and it becomes a routine part of our lives. Most of us forget that there are millions of people on this earth who ponder every day the questions of the soul and have no answers. Honelstly it has been a little daunting! Realizing that I have something so precious to share and that I am participating in the greatest work on this earth. I remember the first week here in Peru, coming to that realization and thinking that everything just needed to be going right, 100% right. I have my first lesson with my first companionship, our little trio. I went into the lesson knowing that these two missionaries could barely speak any spanish, and my mindset was that I needed to save the lesson and also the eternal salvation of this "investigator". Well as you can imagine that didnt work! And i have come to realize since that it is foolish to think that someone who has been called to the work cant do their job! I learned so much from these two companions, simply their desire to work has been so amazing and I know that they will be blessed with the gift of tongues in due time, as they continue to have faith and do the work.

Well I am out of here on tuesday! (at three o clock in the morning :(  )   Thank you everyone for your love and support while I have been here. Mom post my adress for the mission home pls :) Talk to you all in a week.

Le vaya bien

Elder Neff

Thursday, August 23, 2012

August 21, 2012

Dear Familia

Hello! How is everyone doing! Here is another update from the faraway land of Peru.

This week has brought a lot of changes. New principiantes have arrived, and we are now the advanced missionaries. I cant believe how fast the time has flown by! In two weeks ( more or less) we will be shipped out to our first area in the field, I can´t wait!

We had some medical issues in our district this week. Elder Driggs peed some blood one night, which is never a good sign. We told the president and he scheduled a doctors appointment for the next day. The diagnosis was kidney stones and he has been in a lot of pain all week. Members of the district switch off spending time with him in the residence halls. Well the stones never passed and today he went to the doctor to figure out what the problem was. It turns out his back muscles were in a permanently contracted state and were pushing on his kidneys! Ya pretty crazy huh? This happened probably because we had a challenge to do as many pushups and crunches as you could do in one day. But after a cat-scan and a number of shots he seems to be ok, better keep him in your prayers anyway.

We didn't have the oportunity to go out and prosylite this saturday, they never do it the first week new missionaries arrive at the MTC. We have had some great experiences just with our normal MTC teachers though,one I would like to share.

One was with a man who was struggling with problems drinking and abusing his family. He expressed a desire to change, but said that he felt he couldnt truly repent because he would continually return to the same sin. This made me do a lot of thinking, how can we bring these people to true repentance? How can we bring about a great change of heart in our investigators lives and in the process bring them closer to Christ.

With this man (se llama) Rony, I bore testimony that the Lord will forgive us, no matter how many times we sin. I am so grateful for the infinite atonement of Christ. The opportunity we have to be completely clean, and the fact that this opportunity is always open to us is an incredible gift. I know this man was just role playing, but my companion and I felt the spirit so strongly when his eyes lit up, knowing that he could be clean from his sins.

WE also recieved new latin roomates this week... Oh and this has been a joy! I feel so terrible, one of them absolutely has no concept of personal hygene. Our room stinks to high heaven HOLY COW. Its bad enough when you have 5 semi clean elders living in one confined space, but when you add another one who is from the high andes and probably showers 2 times a year this is a problem. So today, we  bought him deoderant and some shampoo and we are going to try and teach him how to stay clean, well let you know how that one goes nxt week :).

Things here are so good. I am so happy to be serving a mission. My life has changed so much already. I think the biggest change has been an increase in my desire to serve the Lord, and my love for him. At the end of the book the gospels, when the savior appears one liast time to his apostels, he tells them to feed his sheep. I know that I have that same calling, i am so grateful for this opportunity.

I have gotten two letters from mom so far, I hope the others make it here soon! (friends and family)

Con mucho amor

Elder Neff


Rapunzel (she gets me through each day :)

Elders nolan warburten and tarabilda

Wierd bear thing (the latins did this, I have no idea why! Sorry its a little creepy. that is elder Castro with me, hes a goof:)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

August 15, 2012

Hello mi familia!

Who´se ready for another weekly update from the far away land of Peru?

The most exciting things that happened this week had to do with our weekly oportunities to go tracting in Lima.  This week we went to the same place we were last week, but different members to contact. I was hoping that we would have more success this week because in terms of contacting less active members, last week was kind of a bust. We went around to a few different apartment buildings and had no luck, either our members weren´t home, or they didnt want to answer the door. Eventually though, we were able to find a member who was home. To get to their house, you had to walk through a sketchy back alleyway and walk up some stairs that looked like they dated back to the 1700s ( a lot of this city is super old) and finally to this members door. In front of their house they had piles of cardboard boxes, and living inside those boxes were a whole ton of cats! There were cats everywhere, it was really pretty weird. We waited for about fifteen minutes while the member was getting ready for us and gathering the family and then we went inside. There house was pretty humble, the only lighting they had was some christmas lights across the room ( although they did have a very nice flat screen tv, which is pretty typical of even the poorest people here). We started talking to the family and came to realize that the only member in the family was their daughter who was about sixteen years old. The mother had attended church a few times, but had become dissillusioned when members started to tell her she shouldnt take the sacrament because she hadnt been baptized. This is totally not true, and it was really sad to hear her experience of feeling the holy ghost and having that confirming witness that the church was true, only to be turned away by members who should be trying to fellowship. I tried to bear witness that the spirit she felt was an answer from her heavenly father that this church was a good thing for her. I think this had minimal affect because I was so overwhelmed to finally be talking to a real investigator in spanish, so i fumbled over my words a little bit. But i felt the Spirit, and i have realized that sometimes this is all we can hope for in a situation like that.

When we left their house i was dissappointed, I knew that the lord loved this lady and that he wanted her to know the truth. Its true that he wants all his children to hear the truth, but when you are put in a situation where you get to feel that same love for someone, you want nothing more than to say exactly what they need to hear to have a change of heart.

The biggest lesson i got this week, however, is that as missionaries we all need to have that same change of heart. The experience of coming out into the mission field, going to the MTC and learning how to preach the gospel has been so cool. The most important thing i learned though, is that this gospel needs to become the most important thing in our lives. We watched a devotional by elder holland, given at the provo MTC. He said something so powerful in his talk, in effect, that this work will never be over for us, and that if we love the savior we will always be willing to feed his sheep. This made me realize not only how dedicated I need to be for my whole life to the lord, but that this very time that i am in is so precious! And that to be worthy, and to be here, is an amazing blessing in and of itself.

Speaking of Elder Holland... HE IS COMING HERE TO TALK TO US IN THREE WEEKS!  Everyone here is freaking out because we never get to have firesides with general authorities down here in Peru. Also, somehow the presidents wife found out I was a vocal performance major in college so she asked me to sing a solo and help organize a choir when they come. super stoked!

Much love
Elder Neff

p.s. i am still waiting for mail, many of you may have heard that the mail system here was down for a couple of weeks because the peruvian mail workers decided to go on strike! also i cant really send any mail until i get some US stamps and they havent come yet so sit tight everyone! but so far i have only recieved dear elders anyway.

about the pictures ( not in any particular order)

Pic of the class

Me and elder Stanely (big white guy)

Me and Elder Sherman from back home!

Area of the city called rimac ( a little feo lo siento)

Me and elder driggs sad infront of the dark night rises poster)

Me infront of the palace (equivelant of the white house here in peru)

Im not sure what the last one is i posted and sorry im out of time! love :)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

August 8, 2012 (Lima MTC)

Hello everyone! Here is a big update from PERU

This week we had some super exciting things happen, probably the most exciting week in the mission yet.

First of all, we had the oportunity to go out and proselite in Lima on saturday. The entire MTC loaded up on buses and drove out into the city at about 2 oclock in the afternoon and proselited until about 6 30 at night. Lima is something else. The city is absolutely HUGE. sooooo many people. My district went out to contact less active members in an area in central Lima. The biggest building is only 30 stories high ( no buildings can be over this height because they have earth quakes frequently here... in fact we have already felt like 3 small ones.) so everyone is crammed together in these really small houses. Our search to contact less actives was really pretty fruitless, we ended up walking around the city going to houses where the people either werent there, or didn{t want to talk with us. My native companion (elder Lezano) wouldnt stop telling me how dangerous the area were were in was. He kept saying Peligroso! With a really big smile on his face,  which was a little weird. I think he was over reacting a little, he is from a nice place in Lima and doesnt travel into the city very much. We did see so many weird things though, men welding things without goggles, people taking parts from elipticals to fix bicycles, and lots and lots of street vendors selling Pan (bread). I stick out like a sore thumb here... 6'2 tall and white is about as different as you could get here in Lima. People could not stop staring at me, really it was pretty funny.

Because we weren´t able to contact any of the less actives, we decided to go and place a few books of mormon and some pamphlets we brought with us. We decided to try our luck out in the central plaza across from the government buildings and big catholic churches. We met some wonderful people, one couple in particular was very receptive. As we approached them, they seemed somewhat disinterested, but when we began to talk about the book of mormon they became much more animated and were so curious about christ coming to the americas (a lot of people like that here :) They told us that they had been looking for something that would better their lives, and that they were a little dissillusioned with their current religion. They asked us if being a member of the church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints brought us a lot of happiness. My companion had the biggest grin on his face as he told the man that they knowledge he had from being a member of the church (and reading the book of mormon) brought him the greatest happiness in his life. The family was so happy to hear this! They then asked us what made us pick them out from the others in the crowd, I told them it was because they had a little girl with them, and that the gospel message blesses families especially. Then we got to talk about eternal families, I hope with all my heart they decide to join the church!

One day this week, my companionship was late for class. our teacher told us that because we were late we would have to go and try to contact one of the cafeteria workers here at the mtc and teach them the lessons (apparently they are not members.) Sooooo.... yesterday we met Patricia, and today we are going to teach her at 3 oclock! WE HAVE A REAL INVESTIGATOR!  She is the cutest little cafeteria worker, and I am so excited to teach her the gospel.

This week we were also able to watch a really cool devotional by Elder Bednar! Also, Bethany Pinnock gave the closing prayer, so if any pinnocks are reading this I thought of you this week. :) It was such a cool talk! He spoke about not worrying wheter the Spirit was speaking to us, or whether we think it is our own thoughts, if we choose to be righteous, our footsteps will be guided. I know this is true! I know this gospel is true, i am so grateful to be able to serve.

 The weather here NEVER changes, about as different as it gets is some mist... the other day we had a little breeze blow through, that was pretty exciting. Still haven{t seen the sun in two weeks!

Love you mom I am doing great. IDK about the sunglasses, Did you read about the proceedures i talked about in the last letter? we can do those after the mission. Right now dont worry about sending me a package it just doesn{t work here. Love you lots make sure people send me mail and that i get some stamps. Id like to hear a little more about home so pls send me some more info.

pictures, not neccessarily in order

me nad my comp elder lezano
work on the lima temple
funny car add ( the traffic is terrible here)
all of us in front of the temple
cool color selective pic of a peru flag on a house

Thats it for this week! lots of love from peru

Elder Neff

p.s. send me some mail and some dear elders. Pouch mail is the best, snail mail takes about 3-5 weeks i think. Those of you waiting for letters sit tight! They are coming. ( mom try and get me those stamps so i can send out some mail)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

August 1, 2012 (Lima MTC)

Hola Familia!

Who is excited for some news from Peru? It has been such a great week here, where to begin? We started classes wedensday night after we got through all the orientation. Classes are very similar to Provo here, same basic time schedule. One BIG difference though, the teachers really don´t understand any english. You can try to as how to say something in spanish, but really they don´t have any clue how to translate to English. Me and two other kids in the class are usually looked to when someone wants to know how to say something in Spanish. So that makes it pretty darn tough! But we work through it and everything seems to be running pretty smoothly now.

Thursday we got the chance to attend a session at the Peru temple. Don´t let the pictures of the temple decieve you, it looks like the temple is settled nicely on a beautiful remote hilltop. Definitely not! This temple is in the middle of a bustling city, (seriously there are a TON of people here in Lima.) the session was really cool though, I decided to opt out of the translation and to just listen to it Spanish. I understood most of it, but when i got to the vail i´m pretty sure my veil worker was from the mountains and knew solo quechua before because his spanish was just mumbling. So I just mumbled too, I think there are going to be a lot of things in Spanish that I end up knowing before I understand them in English.

Ok lets talk a little about lima. It is a HUGE city. There are quite a few differences too. One, the traffic is completely nutz. The first time all the American missionaries got in the CCM van they thought they were going to die, it was really funny actually. All the sisters were trying to give advice to the Native driver, and then hiding their faces. Its eat or be eaten here in Lima. If buddy the Elf were here, he would have to look out for more than just the "yellow ones" (Although you really aren´t supposed to take the taxies here because apparently some of them will take you to some place where you will get robbed) because no car will stop for you. The sisters didn´t get that either so we had some close calls walking from the temple back to the CCM.

The food here was great! For about one week. The president warned us in a mtg that we would get diarrhea at some point here at the CCM, and that it would last for about a day and then pass. I was expecting it a few days after we came, but it has a way of sneaking up on you. Our district has nicknamed it the "pox". It was pretty miserable. for some people it happens in a few days, for others, it takes weeks! I swear it is some evil plan of the wokers in the cafeteria. They actually give pills to the latin missionaries though, to clear out the parasites and things they may have brought from home. This has resulted in a lot of missionaries spending a lot of time in the bathroom. Sorry, this is definitely gross, but mom you wanted to hear everything so there you go ;)

I was put in a trio after about three days at the CCM, a new elder named Elder Driggs ( so Ironic i would kill to see matt right now) showed up late friday night. My American companions are elder Driggs and elder Nolan, and they know very little spanish, almost nada. This has been a little tough! The first lesson we taught i was expecting some input from them and i got about 30 seconds  between them. So I had to give and entire lesson on my own! since then we have been hitting the spanish hard, but it is really tough for both of them so keep em in your prayers.

All in all things are so great here, wonderful teachers, good food (after you pass the pox) and lots of awesome missionaries. The mail system is really bad here in lima. I think it costs about 5 US dollars to send a letter home. They do have a pouch system here though, but I had no Idea so i didn{t bring any of my US stamps. I think they send the pouch back to Lima, so mom if you could send me a letter with stamps that would be so great! I would love to hear from everyone so pls send me some letters. My good bud elder Sherman is here at the MTC though and he has some US stamps he is going to lend me, so don{t worry I´ll do my best to respond to all of your letters.

Its a new place, with lots of new people and a new language! At first I was a little homesick, but after some thought and a few days to get a aquainted i realized what a blessing it is to serve a different people, and try to love them as the Lord loves them! This gospel will go into all the world and I am soo grateful that i get to be a part of that. I love all of you! thank you so much for your love and support, I will talk to you in a week!

con much amor

Elder Neff

P.s. my eye has kinda stopped going down, but that is ok! I think I may need some sunglasses, here is a picture of what it will probably end up looking like in the end :( I know they have a lot of ways to fix the issues with light sensitivity though, and that it will all  be ok! I am so grateful to have the opportunity to serve here in peru.
here is a pic of it, sorry its kinda weird i was trying to get a close up of my eye

Elder Neff