Monday, July 21, 2014

Quillabamba 7.21.14

This is truly my last week in the mission and the last letter that you will receive from me as a missionary. Elder Doxey and I had to travel from Quillabamba to Cusco last night, we are going to Lima today in the afternoon to finalize our departure from the country.  I am a little disappointed that we had to leave the sector for half of our last week! But, on the bright side I was able to have a lot of good conversations with Elders that I really love right before I leave the mission. These are such good men that I am going to miss so much! Friendships that last for a brief moment but have such a profound affect on us. As I spoke with many of those good elders, I was able to come to some good conclusions about how I feel ending the mission. I think the first feeling that I have is gratitude and this is what I wanted to express to all of you.


I have been so blessed during my time as a missionary. I have been protected, guided, blessed with the spirit, moved to improve and repent, and most of all I have had the blessing of helping others to come unto Christ. I wanted to take this moment to thank all of you for the support that I have always received from all of you! I think that practically, you have never missed a week in writting me, encouraging me and letting me feel of your love. I feel so blessed to have such an awesome family! Perhaps the thing I am most excited for is to see all of you and to just give you all a BIG HUG!


I look forward to doing my best to help the members in this last week that we have with them in Quillabamba. I will be heading back on wedesnday and just hope to leave them all with a little bit of my love before my time is up.  They are wonderful people. I see how they rely on the Elders a lot for advice and help to resolve their personal problems. This week many people came out and asked for our advice or encouragement. It was so nice to have that experience! I am a little sad that the time is short, but there is something special about those friendships... their full confidence in that we can help them with their individual situations.  I am grateful for that experience of service... as we give all of our time to the Lord he certainly provides and sustains us in our good efforts to serve his children. More than anything, he fills us with charity for all of his children... whether or not they accept the gospel.


As Elder Doxey and I took the 5 hr drive from Quillabamba to Cusco, we were able to talk about the good changes that have come about as we have been on the mission. Again, it made me feel so grateful.


So for the last time, I am thankful. Thankful to all of you for you love and support, thankful to the wonderful people of Perú, and thankful to my Father in Heaven for this experience to learn what it means to love him and to serve his children with all of my heart, might, mind and strength!


I look forward to seeing you all very soon!


Con mucho amor,


Elder Neff

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Quillabamba 7.14.14

To give you an idea of what we are experiencing, we are excited when we break 70 in our little branch of Santa Ana! This week we were pleased to see a good amount of people come out to church, among them a less-active young man named Roy that we have been working with for a long time and have been trying so hard to get him to come! He finally came this week. It was a really interesting experience for me. I could tell that he was feeling uncomfortable ( it really is difficult for any less-active to make that decision to come back to church after a long time of inactivity). We hurried into sacrament mtg as it was starting and took our seat at about the middle bench. ( you can imagine that the chapel is small, about the size of the old oly choir room with out the vaulted roof). As we listened to the anouncements, I was surprised to hear him begin to make a few negative comments, and in general, just be a little impatient. I was thinking about how to help him when they called me up to direct the sacramental hymn. We sang "I stand all amazed" As I was singing/directing I thought to myself about the message of the hymn and about the savior. When I turned and looked at Roy, I could see that he was sensing the message of the hymn. It looked like he must have been feeling hurt, a litte bit of remorse for perhaps the difficulties that he has had since he left the church. He was later able to have an interview with the branch president and get some things worked out.


Elder Oaks visited our mission about a month ago. (I couldn´t be there quillabamba was to far away to come and be present in the mtg...:(   ) He made a comment that really struck me. He said that inactive members need to come to sacrament mtg because they need to feel like they are being baptized again. That struck me! As we renew that covenant, it can be an experience similar to baptism. Helping us to feel clean again. Really neat.


You can all hope for a great letter next week. Just know that I am doing very well, we are very happy with what we are doing. This is the greatest work and has been the greatest experience!


Con mucho amor,


Elder Neff

Quillabamba 7.7.14

Anthony was able to be baptized this week.  It was a really great experience and I am so pleased with how he has progressed.  We arrived early to the church to get everything set up ( about 1 hour early) The font fills up slowly and we had to clean the chapel as well. Anthony showed up a half an hour early with his white shirt and tie. So ready and so excited! That was at 3:30... we couldn´t even start the baptism until 4:30 because nobody was there! People continued to show up during the whole service and it really was a great experience. I am really happy for him... he is very likely the last person that we will be able to teach and baptize so we were really grateful for this experience. I´ve attached some photos for all to see. 

At the end of the baptismal service... I was waiting for something that I have been able to feel throughout my mission, a spiritual confirmation that we have done a good job with the people and that they are ready for the covenant of baptism. It was something that I had been able to feel many times as I interviewed people for baptism, and even with the very people that I have taught. As Anthony gave his testimony after the baptismal service. That feeling of warmth and confirmation came that we had done the best that we could to prepare him and that he was ready to make this decision. I knew that he was ready, but it truly was a tender mercy of the Lord to feel of his approval. Can´t wait to see the great things that this young man will do for the Lord in Quillabamba! I hope to hear that he is going on his mission exactly one year from saturday 05-07-14. Coincidentally, that was the very day that I entered into the MTC only two years ago to be a missionary! I can´t even believe that it has already been two years. It has been such a significant experience for me. 

I love you all so much! I really am praying for all of you.  We are doing so good don´t even worry about us. There are people to teach! (places to go and people to see every day) We don´t have a shortage of work and I pray that it is that way all the way up until we leave! 

Con MUCHO amor, 

Elder Neff
Anthony's baptism
Chocolate beans

Monday, June 30, 2014

Quillabamba 6.30.14

This week... I think that we walked a lot. It may sound odd that this is the first thing that comes to my mind, but we really did walk a lot.  The second councilor in the branch lives about 30 minutes off into the "jungle" ( not really jungle but junglely mountain) to the east of our house. It takes us up on a dirt road that is mostly used by little moto taxis, or if you have a little more money, small pick up trucks... all of which fly by breaking the non-existant speed limit and leaving us in a crazy dust cloud. But inspite of all that, we really love the walk because it gives us time to chat as a companionship... something that has really benefited elder Villa and I. 

We had one particular talk as we were walking that road this week. I was feeling a strong need  to talk to him, but wasn´t sure when the moment would present itself. When we are in the city, there are usually many people to talk with... in other words, places to go and people to see, and there are few oportunities for the type of conversation that we needed to have. 

My companion is a very good person, but has had some difficulties over the whole course of his mission... many of which we are still trying to work on.  I wanted to get to the root of all of that to help him to see the way ought of his dilema... especially before he ends his mission (we end together)  

I won´t speak of details, but I learned a really important lesson this week. We absolutely can never know the real intents or feelings that someone hold is their hearts. Only the Lord knows those things and that is why he asks us to leave the judgement to him and not to ourselves... that is why he asks us to take the beam out of our eye before we even consider worrying about the little sliver that is in our neighbor´s eye. I love the line from the hymn lord, I would follow thee. " in the quiet heart is hidden, sorrow that the eye can´t see".  

I was able to gain a real love for my companion because I choose to think of how he felt.... it doesn´t mean that we need to find disobedience as acceptable behavior, but we can learn to love another and that gives us the opportunity to minister to others as Christ would do it. 

Sorry, I know that was perhaps, unspecific, but for me it was the most significant thing that I learned this week. 

here are the photos! 

the leaves and the tree.... are the "coca" leaf... . (they make cocaine out of that.... but only bad people here they just chew on it.... which isn´t that great either but its not asbad) 

My favorite super-glue.... glory to God super glue.... 



Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Quillabamba 6.23.14

Family! I am going to be writting on a Word document as I wait for the internet to get working… we just got a fiber-optic feed here in Quillabamba about a month ago and the internet changed from super slow to lighting fast! But, it seems like right now there is some trouble with the line and we are reverting to the old, satellite internet…. Let me tell you it´s slower than a tortuga…..

                I am learing a lot to say the least with my last companion…. It has been an odd experience knowing that both of us end at the very same time! I feel a little apprehensive about the people we are teaching knowing that, we are going to have to hand them off to another companionship at the end of July… but we are keeping good records and doing our best to be good teachers.  This Sunday we had a great experience with a less active member that we are trying to reactivate. We picked him up for church and he came out 100% ready with his white shirt ( I have plans to give him a tie). This is the fourth time he has came to church and it seems to me that he is beginning to have a real conversion. He also took up the courage to have an interview with the branch president and that was a huge step! We checked up on him after church and he just looked happy…. It has been a really big change since we found him back in April. It is really gratifying to see those changes in people.  Anthony Medina, our investigator who is going to be baptizedon July 5th is doing great. He´s 17 going on 18 and talks a lot about how he wants to go on a mission.  I really admire that. His brother in law is a member but works very far away in a mine in Puno… the take him to far away places because he knows how to blow things up from his experience in the army. Pretty cool right? I wish there were more things to blow up closer to Quillabamba so he could come to church but, oh well. Hopefully this job will end up being temporary rather than permanent! He only comes once every 2 months, but even so has been a wonderful influence on Anthony and the principal reason that he is investigating the church. The Lord prepares people in so many ways!

                Last experience that just made me WAY happy this week. We have been working with a few recent converts that are in the age to go on a mission… but haven´t quite worked up the courage to go and talk to the branch president yet. One of them is Fidel. Fidel is a great guy. Only member in his family. He works in a bakery delivering bread every morning to the different stores in Quillabamba. He´s a little guy and really quite shy, but he has a great testimony and wants to do what is right…. I think he just needed a little push to begin his mission papers. Anyway, as church was ending, I saw that he was standing outside the branch presidents office… timidly waiting to speak with him. Then, I suppose giving up on his intent, he started to make a move towards the exit of chapel. I thought to myself, uh uh, your talking to president today! I went and grabbed him and led him to president´s office. Not thinking much of it, we continued proselyting that day. At about 6 we passed by the chapel and saw that the lights were on. We went inside to investigate and saw that 2 young adults from the branch were working on their mission papers! Fidel being one of them. I was soooooo happy! If anyone has the chance to go on the mission, and decides not to, they are making the biggest mistake of their life! It has meant, so much to me.

 

Well… there you have it, another week in Quillabamba. It is getting hotter…. And dryer. But I am trying to enjoy every minute of it. Edna…. Buy good shoes. Read your scrips every day! Paigey… I am praying for you, john and hazel every day. Dad…. Spanish commentary on world cup games IS HILARIOUS!!!!! I hear it constantly in any given part of town during the day. Mommy, Its OK that you are helping Eden and couldn´t write. We´ll chat next week. Ben and Andy…. Keep going to scout camp because it preps you for fleas, diarrhea, and nasty weather in the mission!

Love you all very much,

Elder Neff

Panoramic on our roof!
how would you like these fellas as your roomates? (giant red killer wasps....) yes that is someones house and their roof beam! 
Bye, bye elder Murillo.
With the whole district and the pension

Monday, June 16, 2014

Quillabamba 6.16.14

Ok, ok... I am getting the picture. I´ll try to send you more normal things instead of just the spiritual. 

To start off, the world cup is getting to us. EVERYONE and their dog watches the world cup here in south america... so it is impossible to avoid having a few lessons fall through. On Saturday we had a pretty funny experience. We went to go and visit Niels to talk about his baptismal date (which was moved to a different week :( it´s ok he´s working on it.) when we walk into the house him and the member that he lives with were all sitting there on the couch watching the latest game. The invited us to come in and sit down. I tried to get Niels attention, " hey hermano Niels, how are you doing?".... silence. "Hey hermano Niels how are you doing?"... more silence. Eyes still glued to the TV, The third time was the charm but I could honestly not get his attention enough to even do a little bit of follow up on how he was doing haha... and when I turned to see if Elder Murillo was talking to the Member who is fellowshiping Niels, his eyes were glued to the TV too! Mezmerized. I can´t blame them though. The World Cup is the greatest I watched it all four years ago! We also were talking to a less-active member and set an appointment for last wedensday. He called that morning to cancel, and when we asked him for another day when we could have the appointment he said.... " Ya know.... why don´t you call me in about a month.... I already canceled all of my work appointments because they all conflicted with the World Cup!" Like, it was a joke but... not really haha. Ecuador also lost a game this week... Elder Murillo worked with a broken heart that day for real! Soccer runs in the blood of south americans. 

We had a really neat experience with a lady who is not a member but her daughter is. We went to visit her this last week with our ward mission leader. I love something that we learned in our companionship study this week that we are applying in a much better way to every teaching situation. Our purpose as missionaries is to invite others to come unto Christ. We do that best by helping them to have faith and to repent.... and really they accomplish those to things by making the firm decision to be baptized and receive the holy ghost. That principle has been so important for us this week. After studying that, I felt like I had even more confidence to invite others to take that first step to be baptized and really show their faith... There is a moment in "the district 2" a video that outlines the basics of missionary work, where an investigator says "hmm..... baptism, the b-word! " But baptism should never be taboo in missionary work. It is the center of all that we do. 

Elder Murillo has a change :( It has been great being with him but president feels that I ought to be placed with another missionary and fulfill a different assignment. 

Well that´s it for today! I love you all.... Have a great week! 

Elder Neff

Murillo and Me! 
Elder Murillo in Ajuajuyoc.... pronounce it! 
Elder Murillo as Santa Clause.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Quillabamba 6.9.14

I love the letters that I have been able to read of my friends who are finishing their missions. I am so impressed by their faith and desire to serve God. It makes me want to be a better missionary and reflect on my willingness and desire to serve the Lord... I feel like we can always ask ourselves that question, and even as we come up short have the confidence that our best efforts and full dedication will bring us the blessings of the Lord and make up all the difference.


Training Elder Murillo has been a difficult task. I know that I haven´t mentioned it that often but it truly has. Harder than my time in the mission office or in other leadership positions. In part that has come from a huge desire that I have had for Elder Murillo to be the very best missionary that he can be. I know that he has the same desire even if we both come up short at times. Our progress, however, has been incredible and looking back at our first week here in Santa Ana I come to the realization of just how many things have changed.


I am pleased that I have some good news to report on the people that we are teaching. Niels Holland Basurto is prepared and excited to be baptized this fourteenth of June! The Lord has been to good to us and put many people in our path who were preparred to receive the gospel. Yesterday, as we were teaching Niels two commandments, I was amazed when, after we taught them both and then asked Niels to explain to us in his own words what we had taught, he explained perfectly both commandments and his desire to live them. I thought back on countless investigators that I have taught who have had such trouble understanding or accepting the different gospel principles, and in one moment we find someone who has little or no problem at all in living it.


To finish off, I was thinking a little about the talk that Elder Ballard gave in the last general conference. He talked about how sharing what we learn from Preach my Gospel during our letters home would be a wonderful way to get excited about missionary work and the blessings we can receive as we share the restored gospel with others. This morning I read about our premortal life in Chapter 3 of Preach my Gospel (lesson: The Plan of Salvation). I reflected on the great blessing that we have in this time here on earth to prepare ourselves to be worthy of the blessing that we always wanted, to become like our Heavenly Father and his son Jesus Christ! Anyone is greatly blessed by that knowledge. It brings perhaps most importantly a sense of  purpose  to our lives that we would be lost without.


I love you all! Thank you for the love and support that you give me every week!


Elder Neff

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Quillabamba 6.1.14

Wow sounds like summer is about to be in full swing in the coming days. The kids out of school on thursday? Can`t believe how fast the time flies.


As for us here in Quillabamba... it is ALWAYS summer. For real it is getting really HOT these days. Hace demasiado calor. But we are working are tails off and seeing the blessings.


It hurts me to see that some investigators progress while others don`t.  It is even harder to see that some don`t progress not because they don`t want to, but because some external force makes it impossible! That is the situation that we are facing with Cristina right now. We are slowly losing contact with the family and it is really sad to see how it is all deteriorating. Mostly, her husband is causing the issues, although the family division couldn´t be all his fault, Cristina is so zealous to live the gospel that I think her husband was startled and taken by surprise. His reaction has been disappointing but... we are going to have the faith that they can make it through this trial of faith, that he can gain a testimony and that Cristina can be patient while he makes the decision to change.


Meanwhile, there are many other people who are progressing towards baptism, including our investigator Niels Holland Basurto (I know what a name right? Peruvians are too creative.)  He is preparring himself for the 14 of June! O see, right around the corner!


I received a lot of love this week. Thank you all for the letters and encouragement. Elder Murillo and I are doing very well. This last part of my mission has been a real blessing... I just want to finish strong! But I don`t want it to really be the "end". What a blessing it is to serve the Lord our whole life with all our heart might mind and strength!


Con mucho amor,


Elder Neff

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Quillabamba 5.26.14

Some pictures Sam sent us! The first one is some animal that his mission president caught in his backyard. Apparently they ate it for dinner that night.







Quillabamba 5.26.14

Family!


I am starting to get a lot of emails from friends giving me words of encouragement about the last stretch of the mission. Thank you for all of your support! Elder Murillo and I are being so blessed during this time. It has been incredible. I couldn`t be happier about where I am serving, who I am with, and most importantly who we are teaching!


This week I have been mostly impressed by how concious the Lord is of his children and their specific needs. We have been visiting a member named Erica with our Ward Mission Leader, at first with the intention of teaching her the restoration and helping her to invite her friends to investigate the church.... I was so surprised about what happened next. We followed up the first appointment that we had with her with a plan to watch a gospel video and ask her if she had been able to think about someone in particular. We were mostly interested in helping her to invite her husband to investigate, who isn`t a member and travels a lot for work. During this appointment we began to ask her about her husband, and as we entered into this conversation we could see that it was a touchy subject. She then told us that she really wasn`t married toher husband, and began to talk about how guilty she had felt during the time that she had been living with him. She said that she was about to pick up and leave everything (including the church) because of the pain that she felt about her past choices. I was so stunned... but saw in that moment that the Lord is always concious of the needs of his children. We went to that house with the intention of finding new investigators... not knowing that our purpose for going there was much more important!


We should always be ready to "go to the rescue"! I know that many of god`s children are waiting for us to visit themand bring them comfort in a response to their prayers.


Love you all!


Elder Neff

Quillabamba 5.19.14

Hello family!


We keep pluggin´ along here in Quillabamba. Good things are coming out of our dilligence. We have someone with a baptismal date! And our other investigators are on their way towards the same. Cristina and Oswaldo are prepping themselves for marriage, and we are starting to get the preparrations ready for all of that. I sure hope that Oswaldomakes the decision to be baptized as well. I wouldn´t like to baptize any family that wasn´t complete into the church. It has happened too many times before and the results are often inactivity in a short amount of time. However, we really feel like Cristina is so preparred to receive the gospel! If it comes down to it, she will be baptized even if Oswaldo isn´t decidedon it.


I am sorry Really am out of time.... and I am also about to break this peruvian keyboard with the broken space key! Sorry if it was very little....



conmuch amor!


Elder Neff

Thursday, May 15, 2014

QUILLABAMBA 5.12.14

Wow, I had a great time talking to all of you yesterday! I can hardly believe that it is the last one.... You`ve all given me that extra push to help me finish strong! Thank you Thank you. 

We had some very good things happen this week. I love to see how people progress in the gospel. Carlos (our less-active returned missionary) has quit his night time security job! He is now a little busier in the daytime working as a trainer in the gym where he lives, but we are seeing the good changes that are coming about as he sets aside the things of the world and comes back to Christ! 

We also had a very interesting lesson with an investigator. Jorge is a reference from the ward secretary. Jorge is studying agricultural engineering with an emphasis in tropical fruits, interesting right? Coincidentaly,l his religious beliefs are almost as diverse (and odd) as his career choice. We began the lesson by explaining who we are and what we do using the "how to begin teaching " points from Preach my Gospel. He then came out telling us that, he doesn`t need to search for the truth because the Lord said in Mathew 18:20 "where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I will be in the midst of them." I felt bad. I have heard something similar many times on my mission, and really it is a cheap excuse to not take the personal responsability to search for the truth. I love that concept, searching for the truth! The restored church is based on the principle of continued revelation, and the Lord taught the same principle when he said you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free. 

The spirit was with us, and his friend was able to bear a powerful testimony about his conversion story, and it must have had an affect on Jorge because he accepted the invitation to pray to know if Joseph Smith was a prophet, and he even consented to chance his form of prayer to be in harmony with the Lord`s teaching to ask in the name of Christ. 

I`ve attached some photos of some interesting things this week! Holy cow that was so much food I almost DIED! Literally DIED. That is Oven cooked pasta, potatoes, sweet potatoes, chicken, duck, cuy and oven cooked banana. And that is an animal that my branch president caught in his back yard! (I have no idea what it is called....) 

Love you all! Elder Neff

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

QUILLABAMBA 5.5.14

I love thinking about what I am going to share with all of you every week! The honest truth is... I have a hard time picking from all of the exciting experiences that we have, I often look through my journal and think to myself... what do I write about this week? And then I get to excited and I can hardly express myselft in my letters home haha, just know that I am trying as hard as I can! 

Thank you Dad for that last bit of advice that you gave me in your last letter. I hope to accomplish many things before it all ends. I am enjoying the chance to work hard every day with Elder Murillo. Like I have always said, I am grateful that it isn`t easy. That has been such a good thing for me to realize. If it weren`t so tough, it wouldn`t mean so much to me. 

This week we had good things happen... and some not so good things as well haha. Let`s start with the bad news. 

We had a lesson with Cristina y oswaldo this friday. We taught from "The family a proclamation to the World" with the idea that, we would also explain to them the law of chastity when speaking about marriage between a man and a woman being essential to God`s eternal plan. After explaining all of that, they both seemed to be in agreement... although many times we find that to see if the people here understand, you have to ask some more specific questions. We did so, and then invited the both of them to set a specific marriage date... we explained to them that we had prayed and thought that the 30th of may would be an excellent day, in preparation for a baptismal date the 31st. Oswaldo then looked at us and simply said. Hmmm.... you know, getting married really isn`t in my plans right now. His wife Cristina then looked at him with a stare that could kill. I was startled... it really isn`t easy to invite someone to excercise their faith in such a way, but we felt impressed to do it. It was a very disappointing lesson, but the hope is that, praying they will receive an answer and know that they must set a specific date for marriage and baptism. 


On the bright side, we are making progress with the less active members, and there are a few no-members in their families. We will let you know about their progress next week. 

Love you family! I look forward to our last phone call this sunday! 

Elder Neff

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Quillabamba 4.27.14

Wow, we had an amazing week here in Quillabamba! 
First off, president and the assistants came and paid us a visit. We had a great zone conference and, to be completely honest, it was nice to sit back and just learn for the first time in over a year! I absolutely loved it. President spoke to us about the talk given by Elder Nelson in the October conference of 2012 (ask the missionaries they can help you). He talked about our ability to bless the lives of practically anyone because of our calling as missionaries. We commited ourselves to go around with pamphlets of "My Family" and use it as a way to contact and find new investigators. THAT is something that I want to try... it is kinda difficult here because records were iffy way back when but, oh well we`ll give it our best shot! 
We are visiting a lot of wonderful people. Did I tell you about Carlos? (no not Carlos from Cusco, although he does get baptized on the 6th of may! SO EXCITED!) No Carlos from Quillabamba is a less-active returned missionary that we found looking for other less active members that he lives with. They were a little less-interested so we decided that we would start with him. He has progressed so much! He has the strongest desire to return to church... Satan is just a clever fella and knows EXACTLY how to get people. Addictions are a big problem.... don`t let yourself fall into any type of addiction. 
Anyway, we are teaching him many times during the week and every time we teach him we feel the spirit so strongly. The Lord loves his wayward children and wants them to return to his gospel and his church! 
I attached a load of photos. Yes that is QUILLABAMBA! linda Quillabambita de mi corazon.... for real I love this place it is SO BEAUTIFUL! The people are wonderful, we are really enjoying our time here. 
Last comment, Edna I am so proud of you. My companion is from Ecuador and he is by BROWN BROTHA! I honestly love him to death. There is a lot of work to do in Quito Ecuador. Maybe not as a coincidence, he has a less-active sister who lives in Quito with her pareja.... IDK how to say it in English, person that she lives with but isn`t married to. I will give you the reference so that you can take it to Ecuador and take it as your first service in the country of your mission! 
Love you all! Have a wonderful week
Elder Neff

Monday, April 21, 2014

CUSCO 4.14.14

I'm glad you are all doing muy bien!
I´m doing great as well. 

Paige and John you finally know where you´re off too! I know that John is very, very happy. I only ask myself one question, when in the world am I going to see my niece!? I hope we can get everyone up to see me on the first week of august.... 

Eden good for you on the papes I AM TOO EXCITED FOR YOU!!!!! 

Jenna you know I love you. 

Ben stop growing

We are doing really great here in Quillabamba. It was, quite honestly, a good week and a bad week. We had some great success with some poeple that we were searching for since the first day that we got here, and had little success with the people that we found who were doing great! I´m hoping that the Lord is prepping us for one day when EVERYTHING just falls into place. 

But until then we are just gonna keep pluggin´ along. 

My companion Elder Murillo from Guayaquil Ecuador is doing great. Fun facts 

1. We have the SAME BIRTHDAY! April 22 1993.... he said he was born in the moring as well, wasn´t I born in the morning too? We like to think that we were both in heaven and said " Bueno amigaso.... nos vemos en la misión!" 

2. His Father ALSO served a mission in Quito Ecuador (año 90) 

3. He is about 5 foot 5.... and I am about six foot 2..... 

We weren´t to similar on that last one. 

He is doing VERY WELL  though, Really progressing. He loves to teach and I am happy to say that we are having a lot of teaching opportunites. If we can´t find our investigators, there are always many less active members to teach. That seems to be one of our biggest struggles in this branch, retention. 

This week we had a few activities in the district. The most exciting one for me was a fireside for returned and potential missionaries. Many of the RM´s that were present had become less-active, which is a common trend here in Perú (at least in our mission) and I think that the district was hoping for their attendance more than anything. There was such a strong spirit! I feel so strongly that the Lord has a great love for those who have served him and wants them so badly to come back to full activity in the church. 

That is something that we will definitely work on. 

Elder Bengtzen is sitting here right by my side in this very moment! We live in the same house and it has been so great for the both of us. I am amazed at the man that he is. He is an example for me and for all of our district. Some of the patience that he has learned would have pushed many of us to our limits, but he has born it all with good cheer and a great love for his companions. In one of the activities that we had this week, he spoke about a few specific questions investigators and members had and did it extremely well. LATER he gave a talk in church when, on a whim the branch president asked him to give a talk in sacrament mtg. on the book of mormon. His parents should know that their son is an exemplary missionary and that I love the opportunity to be serving with him at this time. 

But.... what more would you expect from DISTRICT OLYMPUS anyway??!!! 


Elder Doxey and I are doing great here on our last stretch. In yet ANOTHER activity that we had this week (IDK what the district was thinking, we had many activities this week) Elder Doxey and I played and sang " he sent his son". He on the guitar and I was on the piano. It was a blast! Like the good old days in ensemble. Wish we had taken a video.... 

Well I love you all very much! Mommy, I´ll be thinking on that one. Not sure what to say to you yet. Remind me next week to respond. 

great photos that we took going to a waterfall. 

yes that is my comp

yes that is Elder Bengtzen

Yes those are bananas 

yes that is a 150 ft waterfall in the peruvian jungle

yes you are now, only a little jealous ;) 

So much love! 

Elder Neff




Saturday, March 22, 2014

CUSCO 3.22.14

 I know you were all waiting for me to send you an email today..... HERE IT IS!!!!


We have had a wonderful week here. Some administrative work and other things, but mostly we have had the opportunity to work hard in our sector. (Which is always a great relief considering the amount of time that we spend far away, we take advantage of any moment we can get in the sector.)


We are visiting a less active lady and her daughter, Elena and Gabriela. They live in the poorer part of our sector (up on the mountain) and we often pass by to visit and teach them when we have appointments for that part of town.


Quite frankly, they wouldn´t be less actives if it wasn´t for their difficult economic situation. I can´t say that I understand all of their problems, but it has been difficult for us to find a way for them to make it to church when only Elena works and Gabriela studies. I couldn´t say that their disposition is the problem,every week they lament the fact that they can´t make it to the church and we feel like their comments are sincere, however it they just couldn´t find a way to work out the mother´s difficult work schedule (she cleans up garbage from 3 AM to 12 PM in the plaza de armas and surounding streets).


Well yesterday we went and did service in her home. When we finished, she sat us down and offered us some "queso and choclo" (look that one up). And then spilled the beans telling us that she was soon going to have her day off... SUNDAYS! We were pretty excited. It is good to see the Lord´s hands in helping people keep his commandments when they really desire it.


I love to hear about the things that you are doing at home. Thank you for all of the updates. I want you to know that I pray for all of you every night! Thank you for the love that you have for me and for the Lord´s work. I am so grateful for this time that I can serve as a missionary.


Expect my next mail next monday. Love you all soo much!


Elder Neff

Thursday, March 13, 2014

CUSCO 3.13.14

I am so grateful for all the correspondence that I got! I tried to at least shoot a line out to everyone. I want you to know that I love you all a bunch.


Well, to be 100% honest... we had very little time to work in the sector this week. Actually, up until now we have basically had no time at all so, my coments on prosyleting experiences may be rather limited, but I will try to give you some insight onto how the week went in terms of our traveling and so forth.


We are continuing to check area books and daily planners. This week we finished with Abancay and Andahuaylas, tomorrow we travel to Sicuani to finish up the mission tour and that will be about 117 companionships interviewed!


The honest truth is that "checking" area books sounds a little rough and it isn´t at all like that. We aren´t "checking" them in the sense that we are finding falts in the missionaries work with the area books and agendas, it is more like a learning opportunity for them to better comprehend how they can use these missionary tools more effectively. The truth is that ALL of the missionaries have good hearts and want to learn how to better serve. I made a joke to my companion and said, "los misioneros simplemente no conocen la verdad porque no saben donde hallarla!" ;) Which, was totally a joke but turned out to be true when we realized that there was actually a good amount of us who didn´t know how to use these things! So we train so that we don´t get frustrated and can know how to be great missionaries. Preach my Gospel missionaries!


Everytime we travel to Andahuaylas... something goes wrong. I am sure that any one of you would have had a heart attack if you would have seen the road that we had to take from Abancay to Andahuaylas. The main road was blocked off by a land slide so we went up this windy mountain road which I liked to call.... La trocha de la muerte. (the dirt road of death) Literally death because if you go off the edge you fall.... a long ways, to your death. ( But I am obviously writting so don´t worry there weren´t any deaths this time ;) And the worst part is that there are SEMI TRUCKS that are passing us on this road. The views are pretty neat though, (if you aren´t looking down....)


Well family, that looks like all for this week because my time is almost up. I love you all soo much and hope that you liked the personal shout outs! If you aren´t one of the special ones that got the personal messages... I´m sorry I love you too.


Elder Neff

Friday, March 7, 2014

CUSCO 3.7.14

It has been a good week family! Here is the update you´ve been waiting for. 

Time continues to fly by here as we are traveling throughout the mission to finish up the interviews and review area books, planners etc. I love getting to know all of the missionaries and help them with whatever I can, it has been great to have this experience. 

My companion and I had a special moment with our investigator Carlos and his wife Tania the other day. We have been visiting them for about 2 months now and Carlos has made some incredible progress. He was a man who found himself in many problems, and sincerely the couple was almost convinced that they wouldn´t be able to save their relationship or marriage. Now, weeks later they have seen a new light enter into their lives and are realizing that the gospel has the potential to save their marriage, and give them the opportunity to be an eternal family. 

This tuesday Carlos accepted the baptismal invitation for the 15th of march, next week! We are so excitied for him. He has come a long way. It was neat to see his wife´s eyes light up with excitement when he said, " yes Elders, I think I would like to do that!" He is very prepared and we are sure that his is going to be able to follow through with his comittment. 

This week I was thinking a lot about the joy that Ammon and his bretheren felt as they preached the gospel to the lamanites. In reality, their joy came when they were able to see the fruits of their labors, but as the preached, they passed through a lot of affliction and difficulties. I am grateful to know that when we find our self at the point of giving in, the spirit can give us a new sense of hope and promise. That´s the trail of faith, and then we recieve the promise. 

Today we made a hike up to the DEVIL´S BALCONY! (calm down it´s not as dangerous as it sounds) haha I will try to send you a batch of photos. 

Love you all so much! I hope you know that you are all in my prayers.

Elder Neff




Tuesday, February 25, 2014

2.25.14

OK... I wouldn´t have been 100% honest if I told you that I was given the big news today when I entered into my email, let me tell you all how they spilled the beans...

Yesterday was not P-day for the office, we were all minding our own business when a few elders came in from the Urcos branch to pick up some materials. Elder Jara is a good friend of mine and he came in to the office telling us about p-day and what there plans were for the day. All of the sudden, he looks at me and says " oh! y el papa de elder neff es el nuevo obispo de su barrio!" I was so dumbfounded! I was like, What? how do you even know that? And then all the pieces of the puzzle started to fall in place... I thought about E. Wagner and how he is currently serving in Urcos (doing very well by the way) and how his grandparents live in our ward. All of the sudden it clicked (meaning I realized it was possible that Elder Jara was right and that Dad really was the new bishop) In this moment I started to express my suprise and excitement walking around the office saying " Mi papa es el nuevo obispo! Mi papa es el nuevo obispo!" And I said it so many times that the elderes started to get a little bothered and before I could repeat the phrase they were saying "si elder neff sabemos que su papa es el nuevo obispo, muy bien!" It was so funny. Honestly a really neat surprise. 

I jumped on today just to give you that quick update... we are a little overloaded this change.... Sometimes I feel like there are a million things to do here in the office that when there is any free time and I have a minute to relax its hardly possible... but I am happy and healthy :) everything is so good. 

Eden its a good thing you mentioned me while you were a little out of it.... good to know that you miss me ;) 

ANDY GREAT SONG YOUR A PRODIGIE! 

Dad, I am so grateful for the blessings that the Lord is pouring out over the family. I feel the spirit really strongly as I write this, knowing that you were prepared for this and that the Lord is so pleased with the way that you and Mom have raised us and the example that you have set for us. I am so grateful for that personally. I know that you will do a wonderful job looking out for the ward and being a blessings in the lives of all of the members. Even though I will only be home for one month, I am 100% manos a la obra! I love you and Mom and am praying for you every day. Thank you for being the best parents that any missionary could ask for :)

With much love,

Elder Neff

CUSCO 2.14.14

Thank you so much for the letters. I always appreciate a good update from home and to know about the little things that are going on. They come to be pretty exciting when you are so far away. 

I loved the snipit about ben and andy. I know they love me... but perhaps I never knew the impact that me being a missionary would have on them. 

I really want to stay, because I feel like the mission has been the best thing that has every happened to me after my family. I really feel that way. Which was my main goal that I had when I started. I wanted to learn how to love my heavenly father more than anything else... and I wanted to show that love through service and have that big change of heart that everyone talks about. I feel like I have done the very best that I can and... honestly I have all confidence that the Lord will help me keep progressing and learning after my mission. 

I am really starting to learn how to let go, be humble and let the Lord´s will step in to help me to make decisions. Honestly on this decision. I felt like he was pleased with either of the dates to come home, (after all, that was an option that everyone of us recieved.... meaning that either one was acceptable) and that the decision would be left up to me. I was rather fearful of going home 3 weeks early... thinking that it would in some way imply that I wasn´t as dedicated to the work, or that I wanted to get out of here sooner or something. It certainly has nothing to do with that... I will think about it a little longer and let you know what I think next week. Sometimes in life, we just need to make a decision and go with it! The Lord isn´t going to command us in all things. 

We started a new way of doing interviews this week. My companion and I checked agendas and area books while President did interviews and Sister Harbertson helped the latin elders get a jump start on their english studies. It was a huge success. We were pretty lax on our usage of agendas and area books, it was interesting for me to think about how important it was for the missionary department to have us use these materials... they have spent probably millions of dollars over the years so that we can use these tools to help us in the work. We are trying to go and help all the missionaries in the mission to know how to use them, and motivate them by explainig how much it will contribute to the work. 

We have had a couple of difficult situations with our investigators these past few weeks. President is going to come to a lesson with us with Carlos and Tania. I am very hopeful that his influence will help them to resolve some of their marital issues.... we aren´t marriage councilers... but I am confident that comprension of gospel principles will help any person solve their problems... so we are fitting the part pretty well actualy ;) 

Love you all so much!
 
Ben and Andy I really love you. Don´t worry, I´ll be home really soon. Just hang tight there a little longer :)

Elder Neff

Friday, January 31, 2014

CUSCO. 1.31.14

Man, there are too many things that happen that I feel the need to write about! Ill try to get at least a little of it in....


I have had a great week and a half with my companion. We were with president and finished up the last few sets of zone conferen uillabamba, Valle Sagrado, Abancay and Andahuaylas.  Now, next week we have changes and then we are in preparation for the next change, nos toca entrevistas!


This week, I had a funny experience and a SUPER spiritual experience which one would you like to hear first?


Ok funny.


So we went to the quillabamba bus terminal to send of some packages with materials that the zone leaders needed. Well, we were there waiting for them to fill out a few papers when all of the sudden a lady came in to the terminal with a few suitcases and her children. It seems like the bus terminal was having very little business that day because all of the ladies representing the different bus companies began to yell, casera casera! (which I have always assumed means like frequent buyer, or the "regulars" that come to buy from a store.) Well she was obviously NOT  a frequent buyer as I saw the startled look on her face and her two kids. I watched in awe as the ladies came from the two bus companies and began a struggleto see who could get them to come to buy a ticket from their company... literally a struggle. One group of ladies managed to get a hold of the mom and one suitcase while the other company got a hold of the two kids and the other suitcase. I could hardly believe what was happening! They obligated the family to use two different buses! It was honestly the most bizarre thing that I have ever seen, I even yelled out and told them to stop but... it was really to late. At least the two buses were going to the same place......


Spiritual and uplifting now. We had a lesson with Carlos and his wife tania. Tania is a member but carlos isn´t... he has quite a few concerns about the church and some of the stories that are related to the restoration. We decided to teach the plan of salvation and base our teachings 100% in scriptures from the BOM.  It worked so well! At the end of the lesson I felt the need to tell him to read moroni 10:4 and 5. He expressed to us how we had often told him to pray to recieve an answer, but that he had never really had this great feeling or comprehension that this set us apart from all the other religions.... cool!


Love you all so much!


Elder Neff.




Tuesday, January 21, 2014

CUSCO 1.18.14

I am getting so much better at writting in my journal and that is a big help for me. I feel like I am more open to revelation because I am showing the Lord that I appreciate the spiritual experiences that he is giving me.  That has kinda been my theme this week, making an active effort to listen to the promptings of the spirit, which is so important, and sometimes I am ashamed to say that I get a little caught up in the daily tasks and forget a little to make an active effort to listen to the spirit. 

Yesterday we went to visit a less active women who lives up " en el punto del cerro" (on the top of the mountain) that is on the back side of our sector... well she doesn´t really live at the very top but, it is still a nice little hike. (although beleive me there are plenty of people that decided to build their house on the top of the mountain and it is always a joy trying to find your way up there). Anyway, we arrived at her house and she invited her daughter (member) and her daughters boyfriend (not a member) to meet with us as well. We practically turned our lesson into a " how to begin teaching session" to help This young man Cesar understand our purpose as missionaries. He was a little hesitant at first, but the moment that we began to teach him a little about the restoration of the gospel a beautiful spirit filled the room.  I was a little stunned, not because feeling the spirit is unfamilar, but because it came on a lot stronger than I expected. I felt a distinct impression to make sure that Cesar gave the closing prayer.  That was a surprising prompting because Cesar was barely participating, let alone volunteering to give the closing prayer. Well, I put my fears to one side and followed the prompting of the spirit. It was an awkward prayer, a little clumsy and a little uncomfortable because I insisted a little so that he would give it. But, a good feeling of confirmation came over me that I had done the right thing... maybe even like a little " I told you so" As I saw that he was pretty satisfied for having given the prayer. 

So, we just gotta trust in the spirit. It will always lead us to good. Honestly, as I come closer to the end of my mission, I realize more and more just how much the lord has blessed me in his work. I have been far from a perfect missionary... but perhaps I was rather hard on myself.  Today, as we traveled to a fun ruin sight in valle sagrado (pictures attached) I was talking to my good friend Elder Bentsen (not Jake Bengtzen... although I saw him about a week ago in puno and he is doing dandy, let his parents know!) and he told me something that was very significant. ( Mom and Dad I don´t want to toot my own horn so if you think this is too braggy for the blog take it off) He told me, " I don´t know if you realize just how many people look up to you, I heard all about you even before I had met you. Everyone told me that you were just a kind good missionary." It hit me so hard. I felt the spirit. I am grateful for that good feeling that basically let me know that, I have met the Lord´s expectations for me, and that is all of the satisfaction I need to know that I have done my best in serving him during my full-time mission. 

There is still so much to go! And I am grateful for it. I love you all so much! Have a great week!

Elder Neff

If you can´t tell these brown things are inca salt mines... the Incas are the Bomb I can´t even believe it. In another life if I could have been any type of Native American I would have been an incan. Hands down.