Monday, April 29, 2013

April 29, 2013

This past week was a real mixture of ups and downs.

Wednesday was transfer meeting, as I mentioned in my previous letter, and it was pretty awesome. My new companion is Elder Fesuiai (picture below). He's Samoan, but born in New Zealand and raised in Australia. Apparently he was converted when he was 12, and before that was involved in gangs and all sorts of other stuff, so he's got some pretty gnarly scars from stab wounds. It'll be interesting to see what the Lord wants me to learn from him. I love him already though; he's hard working and motivated, and we actually have conversations, so, so far so good.

The speakers for transfer meeting included a few area authorities, as well as Elder Rasband (senior president of the seventy?), and Elder Dallin H. Oaks. It was so awesome! I was instructed on missionary work for over an hour by Elder Oaks, after 2 hours of instruction from Elder Rasband and others. Believe it or not, I heard Elder Oaks laugh. A lot. He's a surprisingly funny man, and whenever he laughed, his shoulders would shake up and down and it just made everything even funnier. It was amazing though being able to listen to him. Especially after having read just that morning the part in Jesus the Christ where it talks about what an apostle is. Every once in a while, he would lean on the pulpit, point his finger, and I swear he was looking and pointing directly at me. Especially since in those moments, what was being said was directly applicable to me, and unequivocally answered questions that I had. Another cool thing that he did was compliment us. Before it all started, he had had all of the leaders in attendance line up, and had every missionary go through and shake hands with each person. He complimented us, and said how proud he was that every missionary that went through had looked him in the eyes. Apparently, a lot of the times he does that, missionaries will look away. So that was pretty cool. On a side note, I have no idea what kind of numbskull would look away when shaking his hand. What better way to appear suspicious than to do that?

That was the highlight of the week. The low point happened Friday night. We had a baptism scheduled for Saturday for the Campbell family. Friday night we had the interviews for Sam (13), Zane (10), and Tommy (9). Everyone was excited and ready for the baptism the next morning. Friday night we get a call from Wendy's (the mother) ex-husband, saying that he didn't give permission for the baptism, and that it couldn't happen. He was even planning on coming to the baptism, then out of the blue, he wanted no more of it. Oh how the adversary works in mysterious ways. After speaking with Wendy on Saturday, it appears as though her ex is very controlling, and doesn't like anything done unless it is done his way. He kept telling us how he's a strong member and all this stuff, and all I could think was, "If you were really a strong member, you wouldn't be stopping your children from being baptized." What's really crazy too, is that Brian (step-dad / non-member) was excited about the baptism. In fact, he's been completely supportive throughout the entire thing, even sitting in on lessons. Who knows, maybe having to postpone like this just means that Brian will be getting baptized as well. That's what I'm hoping for.

I had my first encounter with a bible basher yesterday night. All I could think of was the story of Korihor. He even told us his "testimony," and it bore striking resemblance to what Korihor admitted after he was struck dumb. Never been in a more spiritually dead place in my life, than in that man's house.

Well. That'll about do it for this week.

Elder O'Neal

Elder Fesuiai, my new companion

Sunday, April 21, 2013

April 22, 2013

We've got transfers coming up this week, and Elder Manua is becoming a District Leader up in Auckland, so I'm interested to see who my knew companion / trainer will be. It's almost scary to think of getting someone new, especially since I'm being trained. I wonder how his training style will be compared to Elder Manua? I guess I'll find out soon enough. I'm just happy to know that I'm staying in Cambridge. There's so much that we've started here that I would hate to leave before seeing it accomplished. 
This past week was fairly interesting.  Mostly just because it rained everyday but Thursday, and since we don't have very many K's (kilometers/miles) left that we can use in the car, we had to be biking in it the entire time. Luckily I brought a big trench coat that I was issued out of boot camp, so I'm able to stay mostly dry, except for my ankles always get soaked no matter what. Yesterday it rained so hard while we were in church, that when we came out, there was at least 6 inches of water covering most of the parking lot. So everyone was taking off their shoes and hiking up their pants to be able to get to their cars. It's pretty awesome though as far as the country goes. This summer was a huge drought, so most of the fields and country were very dry, but now everything is super green and awesome looking. There's one place off the highway that I've been meaning to take a picture of because it's so beautiful, but I keep forgetting. I'll try for it next week maybe. 
All of our investigators are still looking good. We've got three boys (Campbells) set for baptism and confirmation this weekend. Then next weekend Teuira will be baptized, and another boy named Brodee. Other than that we got three new investigators this week that seem very keen, so I'm excited to see how it goes with them. 
The weeks have started to really fly by, and I sure hope that this is how it continues for the remainder. 
Love you heaps,   Elder O'Neal

Sunday, April 14, 2013

April 15, 2013

Hello hello,  First off, I got the package the family sent! As well as the iPod from Wes. The snacks are pretty amazing. Reeses here is very recent and still quite scarce, so that was an inspired choice indeed. As well as the M&Ms, they don't have the peanut butter ones here. I loved the letters that were included as well. Sorry Wyatt, no castles here. However, The Shire is in Matamata, and a part of our area, so I'm planning on spreading the gospel to the Hobbits within the next few weeks. I'm sure Frodo would be a fantastic, solid member, considering how he resisted the temptation of the ring for so long. Bah, my jokes are getting even lamer than they used to be.  
On to business. It was yet another good week. We did lose Blake, because his mom came down on him about taking lessons from us. It was extremely saddening to have that one happen, because he knows that this is true. I'm still hoping that he'll come back. Who knows, maybe he'll come back with his mom, and we can teach the both of em. Everyone else that we've been teaching is going pretty good.  We got five new investigators this week, and all but one were referrals from our other investigators! Which is pretty cool if you ask me. I just hope that this success and teaching can continue on. Everyone keeps telling us that this is hard area, but I don't think that's true at all. Maybe it was hard area before, but as far as I can tell, it's being prepared, and the field is ready to harvest. So I'm going to THRUST in my sickle with all my might. I'm getting more more excited every day, and I've been working on being bold.  When we talk with people on the street, at the doors or what have you, Elder Manua likes to ask about their day and how everything is going. I hate that. Be Bold! They know why we're here. They know what we're doing. I absolutely love being bold. Tell em who I am, why I'm here, and that the fullness of the gospel has been restored.  
Anyway.  I was able to watch all of the sessions of general conference. It seemed to me that missionary work and families were a huge part of it. It was humbling to think that I am now a missionary. One of those that I always thought were so old and wise. To think I'm now one of 65,000 elders and sisters, whose job it is to bring others the knowledge of the gospel, and by extension, give them the opportunity for eternal happiness. I've got a lot to work on. 
I've only got one picture from this week. It's of this really old guy that was walking down the street, three inches at a time. We talked to him, but he was pretty much deaf and was really difficult to communicate with. As we were biking away, I looked back and thought it was picture worthy. You can be the judge I guess.  Sending love to you, you, and you,  Elder O'Neal

Sunday, April 7, 2013

April 8, 2013

Hello everyone,  A few things have happened since last week, but for the most part everything is pretty much the same.
To start off, something kinda gross happened. On Tuesday of last week, so the day after writing, I had to go to the Doc's after district meeting to get a boil cut open. It was pretty disgusting, and I'll save you the savory details, but suffice it to say, it was really big. I actually had to go back three times to get antibiotic shots, because apparently taking pills wouldn't have been good enough. It made sleeping difficult for the first night, but I was blessed and haven't really felt much pain since then, which doesn't usually happen, so I am told.
I liked this past week very much. We had a trade off from Wednesday morning to Thursday morning. Elder Toolson's a new missionary same as me. In fact, we came over on the same flight. We had a lesson with Teuira (he went to the baptism we had), and it was very strong. I really like being able to teach with someone who is like me, because then it makes me have to speak more and participate more. Especially when it is my area, and my investigator. At the end of the lesson, I invited him to be baptized, which was an awesome feeling. He said that he felt really good about it, and had butterflys at the thought of being able to do so. He's set for the 4th of May, and I really hope that he sticks to it.
I was also able to set another one of our investigators; Blake. Elder Toolson and I had actually found him on the street, so he's been "my" investigator from the start. We've had two lessons with him so far and he has been very receptive. I actually think that he's been being prepared for us for a long time. He said that he found Christianity a few years ago and that it helped him through a rough patch, and he was actually baptized into the Catholic church. I think he would've been ready to receive our message years ago, but his mom is very much against Mormons, and he doesn't turn 18 until the 24th of this month. I invited him to be baptized at the end of our last lesson, and now he is also set for the 4th of May.
I won't be able to watch conference until next weekend, but I did see part of the second session last night. We went to a member's house to see how they were doing and they invited us in to watch conference with them. I kept thinking that as I was sitting there on a Sunday night watching conference, Dad was probably out in the shop working on dirt bikes (since it was his Saturday session) and listening to the exact same talk. Almost like the huge Moon cliche that really cheesy movies always use. I'll be man enough to say that I miss stuff like that. Out in the shop working with the old man listening to inspired words specifically for us. But, I know this is where I need to be. It does seem like as soon as I came here though that stuff got crazy back home. I hope you all know that I love you, and that you're all in my prayers. Hopefully those little prayers from little ol' me will help. 
 Until next time, Elder O'Neal

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

April 1, 2013


So, somebody (Wes) gave me a hard time for not adding captions to my last set of pictures. The guy that I was standing by at the Temple sign is Elder Walker. He's an Englishman that I was in the MTC with, and is now serving in Auckland. The other picture was Elder Manua, in our apartment studying. 

This past week was pretty stellar, if I say so myself. We had two baptisms from the Martin family, and we're pretty close to being able to baptize a couple more from the family. We also got baptismal dates for three kids (9, 11, and 13 yrs old) from another family on the 13th of this month. I'm a little nervous for those, because when Elder Manua asked them, it didn't feel exactly right. I wasn't positive whether he asked them through the direction of the Spirit or just because he wants to "baptize weekly." As much as I doubt though, I trust that if it's what is meant to happen then they will truly want to be baptized, and as such will continue with our lessons and become members on the 13th. 

We also were able to find another guy through a referral that just recently moved to Cambridge. He's only 22 but already has three kids with his partner. He has absolutely no background in religious matters, so we're having to teach him everything. We spent most of the first lesson just teaching about the Godhead and laying the base for future learning. He seems quite promising though. He keeps saying how he wants to change his life (he comes from a gang related situation back home) and how he wants to be happy and raise his kids right. We have him set for baptism on the 26th, and if he'll remain as open and determined as he is now, I'm positive it'll happen. 

We also have another investigator that came to the baptism on Saturday and really seemed to enjoy it. We haven't had a whole lot of time with him, since he is always busy, but he seems quite keen to continue to learn, and I hope that through the direction of the Spirit, we'll be able to set him for baptism upon our next visit. As usual, we'll see what happens, but it feels as though now is the right time for him.

Stuff seems to be picking up quite well, and I only hope that the remainder of the time here in Cambridge will only build on that. We've been well accepted by the members, and everyone is very willing to help with the work. It's just interesting to be in a situation all of a sudden where everyone expects me to have all of the answers. It's not necessarily scary, but a bit disconcerting. I hope everything is going well back home. 

Love you all heaps,
  Elder O'Neal

Here are some pics from the areas: