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