Sunday, July 28, 2013

July 29, 2013

You guys have peaches?? Nooooo! Our entire street has lemon trees planted down it (totally useless), and there's orange trees all over the place, along with grape fruits, feijoas, passion fruit, and of course apples.. But not a single person has a peach tree! For real? What kind of backwoods place is this? I was actually thinking about peaches the other day, and how much I want them for breakfast, and then I had to just come to terms with the fact that it may not happen until I'm back home. It was a hard realization to come to.

So, turns out that before this year is over, we'll have eighty new missionaries in the New Zealand Hamilton Mission alone. Apparently, the majority of them are sister missionaries as well. Which is.. Cool? Six Samoan Elders are coming in this week, then forty five in three weeks I think, then another thirty or so the transfer after. It was something like that.

We had our actual interviews with President Rudd this past week, and I really like him. He seems to be a little more understanding about how things work around here. One thing that I really appreciated was that he's taking a more lenient stand on one of the rules that has served as a real issue before. One of the rules that we had in the Auckland mission is that we were not allowed to eat after six p.m. with the members. I'm sure that it wouldn't be a huge deal back in Utah, or even a lot of other places as well, but being in NZ, there's a fairly large population of Pacific Islanders (Samoans, Tongans, etc..). For the most part, whenever you visit an islander's home, they cook. It doesn't seem to matter what time of the day it is, or if they just ate or whatever, it's just what they do, and if we were offered food after six, we had to say no. Surprising what saying "no" to a plate of food can do. They get really offended. Like, "don't come back," offended. So now, the rule is still there that we shouldn't eat after six, but if the people make us something (because they still do, even when we say no to an offer) we're now able to accept it. Such a weight off. It seems like a super stupid thing, but I was pretty excited about it.

Everything's been going pretty sweet, the weather is getting better, hopefully it means spring is coming (I can't wait to send pictures of the summer here while it's all winter back home). I love it here!

 E. O'Neal

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

July 24, 2013

What up!
     I am still in the same place! Everybody must be getting sick of that sentence. Now I'm just trying to figure out if I'm still in Cambridge because our mission president just came in and he didn't want to change a whole lot, or if it's because I'm not quite finished working with someone in this area. I'm going to go with the second option. If I do get transferred next time, I will have spent six months in the same area; a quarter of my entire mission in this little town, with it's little (but rapidly growing) branch.
     It's been pretty stellar around here. The weather has been just about perfect, (instead of freezing cold and rainy) and our investigators are going very well.
I was pretty surprised with how excited all of the branch seemed to be that we were both staying. I think they may be getting a wee bit too attached to us, though I am keenly aware of how attached I've become to this branch. It's been so awesome to see it grow each and every week. I was hoping to be able to see it turn from a branch into a ward, but alas, I don't think I will be here for that. However, I'm sure I'll keep tabs, and I'm hoping that the work we are doing here will stick for future missionaries.
     It's always sad to see when a person's testimony was with the missionaries that taught them. That's another reason why member missionary work is so important. There's only so much we can do, and then it all turns to the members. Amazing how much member effort is required for there to be effective and lasting missionary work. I'm thinking it'd be pretty sweet to get back and be a ward mission leader somewhere. Be able to do stuff that makes the missionaries lives that much easier, and help keep new converts active.
 Thanks for the letters, and I'll talk with ya'll next week.
  E. O'Neal

Sunday, July 14, 2013

July 15, 2013

Transfers in two days, and still don't know what's going to happen. I think they're trying to shorten my life span, what with the stress and all. Pretty sure a couple of my hairs have gone grey already. Apparently we'll have 45 new missionaries coming in in August, so I'm probably looking at having to be a trainer when it happens, which I can't decide whether I like the idea of or not.
This past week was pretty awesome. Our first bit of good luck was when we went to visit one of our former investigators.  We had dropped her a couple of weeks ago because we had hit a wall with her for a while, and we weren't making any progress whatsoever. We hadn't planned to go see her, but after every house that we went and visiting, she kept popping into our heads, so we tossed our plans and made our way out there. Turns out her partner had left the day before, and we got a return appointment set for this Thursday. What's so awesome about it is that she told us she believes we're the church for her, and that she definitely felt the Spirit when she attended on her first Sunday. She's always been quite keen for learning and wants to be baptized, but it was just very hard for her with her partner around, because he didn't like any of it. Hopefully we'll be able to capitalize and make something happen this time around.
We also found two new investigators this past week. The first one actually found us. We were at the house of one of the less actives that we're working with, and this guy (Steve) came around. We were out back with Owen, but his wife Dana was out front. Apparently Steve was going by and just stopped to ask her about her church. We didn't get to see him then, but we went around Saturday night and were able to talk to him for a few minutes and invite him to church. Apparently he's been to loads of other churches all over the country, and none of them have felt right to him. On Sunday, he actually showed up, and stayed for all three hours. When he was leaving, I asked him what he thought, and he kind of paused for a second before saying that he liked it, it felt right, and he would for certainly be coming back next Sunday.
The other investigator that we got was yesterday. A member from down on the south island showed up with him. He lives in our town, and apparently she's said that if he wants to date her and have it go anywhere, he has to investigate. What was pretty cool about that is that she already has a little baby with him, but instead of just not going to church and going less active, she's turning her life back around, and wants to do everything the right way. I thought it was very cool to see. We've got a family home evening set up with the both of them tonight at one of the members houses, so hopefully all goes well there.
 Well. That oughta do for now.
 Love you all.
   E. O'Neal

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

July 8, 2013

I honestly can't think of a whole lot to say this week. I received a question from Mom about how the new integration of the internet into missionary tracting is going to work and I honestly have no idea how they are going to incorporate the new things that they talked about in the specialized training. We haven't heard anything new on it since they talked about it in that video, but I'm pretty excited to see what happens. As far as missionaries using the web for other things, that won't be a huge difference. After all, we're able to go get on computers every Monday for emails, and we're just at the library. If missionaries want to be disobedient and hop on the web, then they find ways to do it. It seems like you have the focused missionaries and the not so focused ones; either way, they'll be focused or not so focused seemingly no matter what the circumstances.

I'm going to try and get some pictures and things like that for next week, so that even if I don't really have anything to talk about, then at least I'll have some stuff to send anyway.

Love you!
  E. O'Neal

Monday, July 1, 2013

July 1, 2013

We're usually a week behind on stuff (Conference, for example) but last night we were able to watch a specialized training video from the Provo MTC that was absolutely awesome! It was broadcast down here for all missionaries, as well as ward leaders and such (so the ward council pretty much). A few of the things that really intrigued me is that they are planning on having missionaries in our ward buildings so that they can give guided tours to anybody that works up the courage to come by and check it out. The next was Facebook. Apparently, that is one of the tools that they are planning to get worked out within the year, being able to use Facebook as a missionary tool, as well as the other internet resources that are available. So exciting! As well as interesting. It's very cool to be able to be on a mission at the beginning of so many monumental changes. It seemed as though they focused mostly on member missionary work in the training.

It got me thinking about how I was before I came out. Aside from my time spent in basic training, I don't think I did missionary work at all. I was always too busy or too scared or whatever, who knows. I always just figured that there were the missionaries and that was good enough, since it's their job, right? haha. Oops. I've been thinking about it recently too since I heard one of my friends from high school just got baptized and I thought to myself, "I knew him throughout high school, why did I never talk to him about it? He could have found the truth so much earlier, and who knows, maybe he would have had the opportunity to go on a mission as well." I only realize now how difficult it is to do missionary work the way that everyone thinks that it's done, like knocking on doors, talking to random people on the street, just going and contacting referrals. We've talked to right around 130 random people per week since I've been here, and have only gotten about ten people out of it... and not a single one has led to baptism! It makes me think of when Wes talks about his mission, and how they worked solely through the members, and had so much success. That's what I wish we could have here! That's what I'm hoping to push for over the next few weeks that I'm here. Getting every member to help us out. Elder L.Tom Perry pretty much said we should no longer be using our time to knock doors and talk with street contacts, but that we should work with the members, so that's what I'm going to try to do. Hopefully we can spark something in this Branch that will get it to being a Ward.

Real quick on that note. When I first arrived, the average was 40-50 members at sacrament meeting.. Now it's sitting quite comfortably around the mid 70s! It's pretty exciting. 

Other than that, I'm praying for everybody back home, so hopefully it counts for something.
 That oughta do it for now.
   Love you all,
    E. O'Neal