Monday, March 31, 2014

3/31/14 - Write out 1st prayer for investigator

March 31, 2014

   So, this week, we have been focusing on helping the inactive families in our area.  We have 2 ward directories - one is 25 pages which shows all the baptized members in our ward and the other is 10 pages that shows the members that have come to church in the past few years. Crazy right?  So we have 6 inactive families that we're focusing on right now and here is an update with 3 of them:
  Stephanie- her husband is this cool biker who's nice guy who is very chill with us, but has no interest in church. She is a rough country girl who is VERY hesitant about missionaries. We actually went INSIDE her home, talked with her for an HOUR, AND sang I am a child of God! What?!
  Shi-Yu (don't know how to actually spell it)- Taiwanese woman with memory loss. She hasn't come to church in FOREVER, but with the will and strength that only stubborn sister missionaries have, we got her to the Women's conference.  Women’s Conference was amazing and I felt the spirit so strongly.  Mom, I missed sitting with you super bad, but every time they mentioned missionaries I couldn’t help grinning just a little bit. 
   Ralph- whoa, crazy story. His wife is Catholic but loves us and is open to taking lessons (as far as we're concerned). He is cool, but just doesn’t come to church because he served in the Vietnam War and has PTSD. But, I am thrilled to work with this part member family!
   Other random “fun-ness” this week: We have 2 more deaf investigators that are polar opposites.  Paul is completely deaf who doesn't know any sign.  We wrote by hand a whole lesson and there was a whole lotta head nodding and pointing. First prayer I ever wrote out! The other is Juan, who won't STOP signing and he is such a character, and loves to do charades more than actual signing. Super fun!

Love the gospel, love the work, love the people, and THRILLED for general conference!
-Sister McNeill

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

3/24/14 - Helping Move in the Dark - Unique ASL Challenges

Here is Jess’s 3/24/14 letter – we also got a video from her this week of her doing sign language, but it is so funny, because she didn’t translate at all.  So, it’s great to see her signing a message to us for five minutes, but we have no clue what she said – classic Jess!  It was still great to see her cute face all lit up and she looks very fluent in the sign language, so that was fun to see.

“So, this week, wow, all I can say is that my missionary plaque scripture says it best - Alma 26:11-12, I do not boast of my own strength but I will boast of my God. God's miracles are everywhere, and I don't mean to shout them from the rooftops to show what a spiritual experience I'm having, but just this week God has extended his mercy towards me and my companion and I am so grateful for that.
Mom & Dad, this week we had referrals given for 6 deaf people -  6! Contacting them is another matter, but they are there and we’re so excited to reach out to them.

Anyhow, so other moments:
-We helped a deaf woman move for a service project. Do you know how hard it is to back up a truck if they can't hear you, or what to do when it becomes night and you don't have light? It was neat, and hopefully she can hook us up with some of her friends here in the valley. (I've yet to meet a deaf Valley girl, tell ya when I do).

-Complete mess-up moment. We were teaching Peter, this man with tattoos, smokes, and such a FANTASTIC belief in Christ. So, we prepare so heavily for this lesson cuz he is so ready to learn and we see how the Lord prepares his people, we don't. 1 mistake- never assume you will teach the lesson you planned. Instead of Joseph Smith, the conversation dived into the doctrine of Plan of Salvation... note to self, always have ALL the pamphlets with you. 2  our bad moment- invite him to read the Book of Mormon.... which we left in the car. Awesome. Good thing the spirit changes people, not us.

So, we had a lesson with our adorable, less active/short-term memory loss/Taiwanese mom this week. It was so focused on the temple, and Sister Cox and I are determined to get her to attend church. She was so close this week, promised she would Saturday night when we called her. Sunday morning comes, she forgot & wasn't ready. Drat! So next week, we are determined to bring her.

-Neatest spiritual experience, Sis Cox and I were asked to give the "missionary moment" at our elder's baptism yesterday. We basically share the Restoration while Angelina changes after the baptism. Problem 1- had hardly any time to prepare this week. Problem 2- this was both of our first baptism to attend as a missionary so had no examples to follow. Problem 3- you are in front of 40+ people that are members, missionaries, and investigators. High expectations, no? But, no matter, because we did everything we could this week to serve the Lord and bring souls unto him (I never thought I'd get so sick of PB and J sandwiches in the car). We trusted the Lord, and His spirit was so strong. Just complete peace, we even made a few of the members (males on top of that) cry - Success!

It was a great week, and really when you do everything you possibly can, the Lord accepts your sacrifice and makes it enough. Love you all, and know that the spirit can change, edify, and perfect any person willing to become worthy for it.”

Sister McNeill

Monday, March 17, 2014

3/17/14 - 1st Earthquake


   So, who needs an alarm clock in the morning? God wanted to make sure we didn't sleep in for P-day today, so at 6:25 we had an earthquake. I was on the top bunk and it scared me so bad. I found out later it was a 4.7 on the Richter scale. I jumped/leaped off my bunk right as it stopped and me and my companion spent about a whole minute freaking out signing (funny cuz she didn't have her hearing aids and I didn't have my glasses). So nothing broke or anything, but it was still super sweet. Weird. Now I can say experienced my first earthquake, SOOOooo cool. Be jealous!
   Well, that’s pretty much the climax of the week. This week was not very good with numbers, had 2 deaf investigators drop us. That was hard- when we arrived at her house, her boyfriend's mom said she was at the Laundry Mat, so me and my companion spent 40 minutes driving around the nearby laundry mats to try and track her down because this has happened multiple times and we were tired of driving an hour to get there and not have her home. Well, we couldn't find her. It was harder saying bye to her kids- (5 and 3 yrs old). They need the gospel, and it’s hard when they love the church but the mom chooses not to listen. But, I know the Lord will help those boys find the gospel, just doesn't seem like it'll be through us.
   But, we got a referral for 2 separate deaf couples in an apartment. We drove an hour to get there, turns out they were "busy" but it’s okay because 4 new deaf potentials is AWESOME! Also, another person comes home today, so hopefully we can discuss her desire to be baptized and try to help her realize not to wait for her husband to become active again. 
   I've realized how convenient it is to be a Sister missionary, sometimes.  It can be frustrating, especially when you're walking in a not so rich town and people are just weird, but when we're in the rich areas, most people admit to us they only opened the doors to us because they know they can take on us two if need be.  Apparently, not so good people will come to the door pretending to be salesmen and then hold the person at gunpoint. So we always just smile at the camera's and wave or just yell through the door in our lovely, non-intimidating voices- so it’s cool being a sister sometimes!
   We found a new investigator named Peter- covered in tattoos and fancy car and gangster hat- and started talking to him and he just opened up and wants to learn about Christ it was so amazing!!! Truly the Lord prepares his people, and when you find them, it makes everything else worth it.
   We’re teaching a cute, 16, girl named Saphire and she is hard of hearing. It is amazing to see how a girl so young can recognize her church doesn't have the full truth and she wants a more detailed plan of how to get back to heaven. Humility and a desire for knowledge is vital in conversion!
   So, a good week overall. The work presses on! Love you all, and know that in order for that "yes" to feel so sweet, you have to have a lot of "no's". 
Love you all, have a phenomenal week! The sun says hi!
-Sister McNeill

Monday, March 3, 2014

3/3/14 - In the furnace we've seen miracles

Whew, well, can you spell R-A-I-N? The past few days California has been hit with cloudy skies and flooding. On Friday, the water was running down driveways like waterslides, and we could barely write the numbers for the house addresses because the water in the gutter covered up the #'s on the street. It was SOO AWESOME (no sarcasm, I swear;) Nah we both loved it. Our poor elders riding bikes, I felt so bad. Having a car is super nice. But we found out that people now will open the doors out of pity for the two girls on their doorstep. Hey, they still think we're crazy, but I love being able to show our dedication like that. The answer is still the same, now just a delayed no, but I really feel happy because we must have left some kind of impression in their mind. We also had to help members move because the workers/ward members refused to leave their houses cuz of the rain. Psh, thank you for raising me tough dad! 
So, this week we have been in the furnace, and in that, we've seen miracles!! Oh man, how do I even start?
So-disappointment, our progressing investigator w/ baptismal date keeps skipping out on our appointments. Now, yes that's a bummer, but even more so when you have to drive 40 minutes to get there. And she's deaf, so we can't call her to double check she'll be there. So, Friday, showed up, missed again, we're all feeling sorry for ourselves when we run into this guy at the gas station. He gives us directions (apparently we look like the clueless white girls in town) and he is all excited that we are Mormons. We give him a pamphlet and the area where he lives, so that was neat. We won't be able to teach him, but that joy in having someone care that we're there, so awesome!!
Okay, I'll summarize faster now, miracles knocking:
Jeff- his wife tells us off and that she's Jewish and not interested, and we start down the driveway when her husband Jeff comes out and starts chatting with us. We explain who we are, and he asks for the address for the church and said he'd try to drag his wife in. Didn't see him yesterday, but not about to give up on our first-accepting Jewish man!!
Beverly- cute older black woman, opened the door and is so excited we are teaching about Christ. Says she stopped partying and now gets drunk with the spirit. She's a nanny, so lives somewhere else so we might not get to teach her, but was so excited to learn more about Christ. Had prayer on doorstep w/ her, spirit was so strong.
Bridget- Also adorable black woman, not quite so much energy, but straight up asks us what we believe cuz she wants to know. Started right with the pamphlet, spirit was so strong, but when we asked her to read what Joseph Smith said about the experience, she misinterpreted and put it in her purse and promised to read it later. She also told us again that she was planning on praying to see if it was true (know the answer to that one) and we will see her again this week!!
Last one I have time for is Marc - He comes out on the porch and starts telling us, nicely but honestly, that he has no belief in God and that he's not gonna change. We keep talking with him, and he starts telling us about his son and how he's in the 12 step program to quit an addiction, and how he's noticed that most people tend to turn religious and to GOD when going through rehab. Well, 8 hours before, that morning in companion study we made a goal. We'd give a Word of Wisdom pamphlet to a 25-35 yr old man who was married. KID YOU NOT I PROMISE THIS IS TRUE, that was our goal. Now, this obviously is not going happen every single day, but I testify God heard our prayers and answered them when we gave Marc that pamphlet & he admitted that it might be time to change. Miracles happen, but first you need to sacrifice more than your usual. You need to up your sacrifice and up your faith if you want to up your experiences.
God answers prayers and He changes hearts. We're not called to prepare people, we're called to gather the people that God has prepared.
Love you all, promise it’s from the furnace you find the best of diamonds. If you want to see amazing things, you have to endure through amazing trials.
Love forever, exhaling the valley!
-Sister McNeill