Sunday, March 24, 2013

March 25, 2013

Not a whole lot has happened since the last letter. We have the Martin family's baptism scheduled for this Saturday. Originally we had planned to baptize three of the kids, but Boston, the 13yr old girl, decided that she didn't want to go to Church yesterday, and that she's not ready for baptism yet. Which is alright, I guess. We'll just continue to teach her with her mom, Kelly. Another one of their kids, Jordan, came to me while we were helping do a service project for them, and said that he was interested in learning more, so we're hoping to be able to start the lessons with him this week. David also quit smoking last week! So he had an interview and is going to be able to receive the Priesthood and baptize his kids. Pretty awesome. I was very surprised at his strength and ability in quitting something so difficult. 

We also have a few more investigators scheduled for this week. One was being taught by the last missionaries, so we'll have to see where he is at and if he is still curious. Another we actually met by just going and talking to her as she was sitting on her porch. She's Catholic, but hasn't ever really gone to church. We talked to her for a good long while, and finally asked her if she would be interested in knowing more and she gave us a time on Thursday. Making an appointment that far away makes me a little nervous, but if she's ready to hear our message then there shouldn't be anything to worry about. 

The branch here hosted a huge dinner with massive amounts of all different kinds of good food, so we met a few non-members there as well. We didn't get a whole lot of appointments yet but were able to get phone numbers, so we'll see. We did however get an appointment to go talk to a nice Muslim man. I'm not really sure how that will work out, but he invited us to come talk more with him. I sure hope it doesn't turn out to be some sort of Bible bash. We've had a few people try to start that up, but I always just break it off as soon it starts. 

Elder Manua and I still don't speak a whole lot, which I've actually found to be a blessing because it's given me all sorts of time to study. Whenever I'm eating or if we have a little bit of down time, like before bed, I've been reading Jesus the Christ. So far I'm almost three hundred pages in and I only started it last week! I love it! I think once I'm finished reading it, I'll just start over, because there is so much awesome information that I'm sure I've missed loads of what is available for me to learn. 

The weather here is pretty awesome most of the time. Usually it's sunny and clear, then out of nowhere it'll just start raining cats and dogs. The nights are starting to get pretty cold, and our flat doesn't have any sort of heater, so I'm sure this is going to be an interesting winter. 

I'm about out of time, so this will have to suffice for now. 
Love you all!
Elder O'Neal

Elder O'Neal and Elder Walker

Monday, March 18, 2013

cute letter from Sister O'Neal to Elder O'Neal

Kurt! ELDER O'Neal!!!
So awesome to receive a letter from you!!! Loved hearing about your MTC craziness. Such a short time. Lucky. I don't have loads of time. But I wanted to let you know how awesome you are. What a great missionary. I don't think it has quite sunk in yet that you are actually on a mission. Weird. :) but so great. Keep it up. 

And now on to the fact that you do understand how fabulous it is to get letters. And that with the time difference I actually have no idea when you will actually receive this. But just know that you are rocking it. And that even though your comp is a bit quiet, I am sure he will open up. Training is a bit stressful. Let me know how you are. I would love to hear from you. Jen is sending your blog on to me and I love reading it. I am so proud of you Kurt and am so excited for you. The mission will be so hard. and some days you will wish you could just stay in bed. Trust me - if you haven't felt it already, you will. It's what you do afterward that counts. Get up. Kneel. And then tell your Father in Heaven everything that you are thinking and you will find that the day is beautiful. And that the fire of missionary work will always be with you.  And write in your journal everyday. Missions are kind of awkward sometimes. Write that mess down... you'll want to be able to look back on it and laugh. Don't get too serious. Be dignified but Kurt - Have Fun. Something my trainer told me. If you aren't having fun - then you aren't doing missionary work right. Laugh everyday - it's the best medicine!

Maybe you'll just look at this letter and roll your eyes, and that is okay. Just know that I miss you and pray for you! Keep it up.

Love, Rusti
Sister O'Neal 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

March 18, 2013

First off, thanks Shannon and Kevin, I got your package and I love the tie! Thanks to everyone that has sent me letters so far, it's good to hear from home. 

It's Monday, and I got here last Thursday evening, and already we're moving the work forward. Firstly, my companion, Elder Manua, is Samoan. I have no idea how long he has been out, because apparently the sign of a mature missionary is that you don't tell people that. Like women and their age I'm assuming? I'm pretty sure he came out in September of 2012 though, because a card in the president's office had that date on it. Aside from that, he doesn't talk very much either, I don't know if it's because he is still unfamiliar with English or just not a talkative person, so I spend like ninety percent of my time with him in silence, which is fine. 

My specific area is a town called Cambridge. It's not very big and is mostly country, so I really enjoy it. I was actually hoping for somewhere exactly like this; going around in the big city didn't seem very appealing. The last missionaries that were here left around a month ago, so Elder Manua and I reopening it, which makes it a bit more difficult since we have to figure everything out for ourselves. So far we've met most of the branch here (a bunch of less actives) and are teaching an investigator family, the Martins. The dad (David) is an inactive member, and the rest of them are not members at all. We've already set three of the kids for baptism next weekend, and we're hoping to be able to get David the Aaronic priesthood, and Kelly (the mom) baptized as well. The only problem is that like so many people around here, they both enjoy smoking and drinking. Which brings up another topic; loads of people have horrible teeth. I don't know if it's a lack of brushing or excessive smoking or what, but it's really bad. People ought to look in to dentistry, and an orthodontist while they're at it. 

The food here is excellent, but because the members will feed you so much of it, we're only allowed to eat with members four times a week, and we have to feed ourselves the other three days. That is no good. The cost of living down here is super high, so buying groceries ads up quickly. So far I really like these cereal type things called Wheat Bix. They're super dry, super bland bricks of healthy goodness. Throw a little jelly on there with a whole lot of milk and you're golden. Other than that if you eat with a member its gonna be loads of bbq. Heaps of delicious steak and chicken. 

The weather here has been in the 80s, I think, though I'm not really sure because everything is on the metric system. Apparently this is the driest that anyone around here has seen it. Even the golf courses (of which there are many) are dry. That's another thing. People around here love their golf, rugby, and horse racing. Golf courses are everywhere, rugby clubs are on every street, and apparently the town is known for their super competitive race horses. 

Elder Manua doesn't have a valid license, so I've had to do all of the driving. It was really weird for the first little bit of driving on the left side, but I picked it up pretty quick and haven't really had any problems since. I still think I'm headed for a head on every now and again. 

I'm sure there's a lot of other stuff I could talk about but I've got a novel going here already, so this will conclude today. Sorry I don't have any pictures to send; I forgot the cord to plug in my camera. I'll make sure to take a few more and I'll try to send some next week. 

Elder O'Neal

Thursday, March 14, 2013

letter from the President

14th March 2013
Dear Brother and Sister O’Neal,
It was a great pleasure to welcome your son, Elder O’Neal, to the New Zealand Auckland Mission.  He arrived in good health, ready to begin his missionary labours with a people who are full of faith and love.  He is a credit to you both and I appreciate the privilege of having him here in the mission. 
Elder O’Neal’s new companion is Elder Manua, his trainer who will help your son adjust to missionary life.  They have been assigned to work in the Temple View area.  We are confident that as they work diligently together that the Lord will bless them and they will experience the joy of seeing our Heavenly Father’s children progress towards baptism in His church.
Your son will look forward to your weekly letters of encouragement and support.  Monday is his preparation day and the time allocated to him to write emails home to you.  All mailed letters should be sent to the Mission Office (see address above). 
Thank you for all you have done to prepare your son for his mission.  Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.  Sister Lekias and I will do everything in our power to help him have a wonderful and productive mission.  We pray the Lord will bless and sustain you in his absence.
Sincerely yours,
President Paul N. Lekias

Monday, March 11, 2013

March 11, 2013

This is my last day here at the MTC and I’m pretty excited. It’s about time to get out and actually start doing things and be able to get that "on the job training", rather than sitting in a class all day long and doing pretend situations with other people. I’ve been trying really hard to take everything seriously and learn as much as I can. It definitely gets a little monotonous doing the same exact routine every day, but I’m hoping it’ll pay off once I’m actually in the field. All of the guys here have me a little worried about my weight going into this mission. They said depending on where I’m at I’ll probably end up putting on loads of weight from all of the barbecue. Hopefully I won’t come back like a big rolly polly!
Love, Kurt

Monday, March 4, 2013

First letter! March 4, 2013

I got here last Thursday at around 5 in the morning, and for that first day, we didn't do a whole lot. Mostly we just took care of stuff to get us all checked in to the system then sat around all day. I spent most of that day hanging out with Elder Walker, he's a British guy that'll be serving in Auckland with me. My companion, Elder Niania (on my left), is pretty cool. He was born in Hawaii and lived in Utah for most of his life, then moved to Sydney about five years ago. He understands how everything works back in the States, and has been nice to have around when we go eat stuff I've never seen before. 

I'm really excited to actually get out of the MTC next week and start some real missionary work. It's driving me nuts being cooped up in here. We just do classes all day long. It starts feeling like a really long road trip, except the view out of the window always stays the same, though to be fair it is a pretty cool view; no white! One of the guys in my "district" is a Tazy (Tazmanian) and rides dirt bikes, so he's really nice to have here as a release when all I can think about is riding, which seems to happen a lot. I try my hardest not to daydream, then next thing I know all I'm seeing is a set of handlebars and a front fender. At least it's better than if I was daydreaming about girls, eh? 

There's loads of Americans here, as well as Samoans, Tongans, Australians, Fijians, and Tahitians (forgive me if I spelled any of those incorrectly). One of my favorites is Elder Tiananga. He's the big guy on my right. He dropped out of high school when he was 16, I think, and started working in the mines. He's probably my favorite guy here, because he laughs at everything I say. Almost like having Phil Dunphy around (Claire's husband on Modern Family). I'll make sure to write again, but for now we're off to play some basketball, except I can't really because I keep cranking my ankle. Oh well. So until next time.   Love, Kurt

Elder Niania and Elder O'Neal