Monday, August 26, 2013

August 26, 2013

Mom asked about the sign that everyone does with their fingers around here and yeah, it's just the hang loose sign. Around here you have to be a bit more careful doing it in public because there's a really big gang called the Mongrel Mob, and that's their sign. Mom also asked about our actual address so it could be looked up on google maps and we live at 54 Dinsdale Rd.  Actually it isn't even in our ward boundaries, so its not in our area boundaries. It's in the Dinsdale ward. Funny thing is that the Dinsdale sisters live in a flat in our area, and we live in a flat in their area. Our area goes right to the edge of Hamilton, then there's about a mile of country road and you get into Temple View, which was a part of my old zone.

It's quite a bit different being here, for one thing there's a lot more members around here, so we're always getting honked and waved at. We had a baptism this past weekend, which was pretty awesome. The investigator that is set for next week came with her brother, and they really enjoyed it, so we went to see them last night just to kind of recap and talk about what they thought. The brother (Matthew) told the Sisters when they were here that he really wasn't ready, and probably wouldn't be for a few more years, but as we were talking to them we could tell that he was really thinking about baptism. He's pretty much sat in on every lesson that his sister has had, so he knows the most of it. We ended up linking baptism to the Plan of Salvation, hoping to help him understand that baptism is more than just washing away our sins, but its setting us on our first steps towards the Celestial kingdom. Turns out he hadn't remembered a whole lot of anything about the Plan of Salvation, so it really made him think about how baptism and being a member of this church is necessary. We left him with a commitment to read through the pamphlet again and to pray, so I really hope that when we go by again tonight he's done those things and has some good news for us!

It's been interesting to see how the ward takes to having Elders again instead of Sisters. I think they're all still pretty attached to sister missionaries, and it's been remarkably difficult fitting in with the ward. I always just assumed that everyone loves missionaries no matter who they are, but apparently not. Interesting how members will have a bad experience with one Elder and then decide that the whole lot is bad. I know that when it happens I really don't like it. It's almost like the members don't realize that we're real people and just young men that barely got out of high school.

That'll about do it for this week, I'll let you know how it all worked out next week,

  Love ya!
   E. O'Neal

Monday, August 19, 2013

August 19, 2013

It finally happened, I got transferred! I thought that I wasn't going to get transferred, because my companion got the call from President to say that he was being transferred up to south Auckland as a zone leader. Then I got the call later than night.

My new companion is another Samoan. His name is Elder Ilai (pronounced Eli). He's pretty awesome so far, and I'll post a picture of him next week. Unless I forget. I'm now in Tuhikaramea Ward in Hamilton, just on the edge of Hamilton, so kind of in the city. I hope that I get transfered back out to the country, it's much better. We're so close to the Temple that we can see it on the hill out of the window at our flat. It kind of stinks coming into the area because my and new comp and I got double shifted in. We replaced a sister companionship in the area. So basically we're trying to pick up where they left off but we're still starting from scratch. Our area is super tiny too, so we don't have a car. Our first two nights here it rained on us like crazy, and we don't really know anybody so there wasn't even any way to get into a house. The area is probably about the size of the 14th ward (Mom and Dad's ward). Maybe a little bigger but not by much. We're actually pretty worried about how we're going to fill our time, because the sisters that were here knocked every street. There's a couple of investigators that I'm hoping work out, but for the most part, the sisters only had women investigators, so we can't really teach them unless we're able to find male fellowship, so that we can go into the homes.

I think we have the absolute nicest flat in the entire mission. It's fully furnished, has AC, a washer AND a dryer, and even heat lamps instead of regular light bulbs in the bathroom. Pretty cool. Apparently it's the flat that everyone in the Hamilton area wants.

They don't really let us read a whole lot of extra material. I've now read Jesus the Christ three times, as well as Our Heritage, Our Search for Happiness, and I'm almost done with the Book of Mormon for the third time as well. We get Ensigns sometimes, so I read through those, but it does get kind of exhausting sometimes just reading through the same material over and over.

I think that'll about do it. I've got a load of pictures from my last area that I'll send.

Elder O'Neal   

The guy on the right is Te Uira. He was one of our awesome investigators. He'll be baptized once he's off of home arrest.
This is two of our LA (less-active) families. They threw us a huge party the night before we left.

This was our branch president's (President Tupaea) family.

Owen, one of our LA's (less actives)

Monday, August 12, 2013

August 12, 2013

Awesome, questions, that means I can just answer those and I don't have to think about what to talk about. It's kind of like when we're teaching, I always love it when people have loads of questions, because it gives us that good base to teach off of, instead of just going through the motions.

It's finally getting a little bit warmer down here, so life is getting a little bit easier. Not that it ever really got that cold, but it was enough to make it no fun on the rare occasions that we have to bike. I've decided that I really hate driving down here though, because they use those stinking speed cameras. They like to put them in vans, and then park the van in those transition spots where the speed is going from 50 to 70 or whatever it is. Then it just clicks away when you're going 70 in at the end of the 50.. So annoying! I've gotten two tickets now from it. Apparently the second one happened back in May, but I didn't hear about it until this morning. Counting my blessings though at least it doesn't go on my driving record or anything, I just have to pay it, and if I get five the mission won't let me drive anymore. Which wouldn't be too bad, so long as I have a comp that can drive still.

As far as food goes, it's all pretty much exactly what we eat back home, just with a whole lot more meat. There's probably only been a handful of times when we've eaten at a member's home and it wasn't steak or ribs or something else that has to do with meat. One of the families makes the best lamb. So good.

I think the mission is getting 90 new missionaries in the next couple of months, so odds are I'll be a trainer coming up here, we'll see, but for now I'm still in the same place with the same comp. We have four week transfers this week on Thursday, then I think some weird mid transfers maybe next week as well, then the end of the regular six weeks after that. I think the members of our branch are more nervous about us getting transferred than we are. So cool how much they actually care about us. I'm really worried that a couple of the less active families we've been working with will go back to being totally less active again once we're gone. Hopefully not. I've really been trying to help everyone get their own testimony about the Church, instead of just a testimony about the missionaries.

Cost of living here is pretty pricey. I think if we didn't get fed and taken care of by the members like we do, we'd both be starved. As it is, I'm still sitting around 165, which is the most I've ever weighed I think.

For the most part, it's all fine and dandy round these parts. We're moving forward slowly, but we're still moving forward. It's really cool that all of these missionaries are coming in, because now there are a lot of new areas being opened. Places that haven't ever had their own missionaries are now getting them, and some wards are even going to be double covered. I think NZ should start being afraid, what with how the work is accelerating, this must be the first place to be sunk into the depths of the sea. haha.

 Love you!
  E. O'Neal

Monday, August 5, 2013

August 5, 2013

So, with all of the new missionaries coming in this month, I have no idea when transfers are. At first, this was going to be a four week transfer cycle, then it got changed back to the regular six weeks, and now people are pretty much just getting transfered every week. Apparently our mission president just found out about fourteen new missionaries that're coming in this month too. Crazy. Hopefully everything will clear up by the end of this month, but we'll see.

As far as investigators go we still have the same ones, but they're doing awesome. We're hopefully looking at Steve being baptized this month with his son, but we'll see what happens. They're waiting on Steve's father-in-law to get his priesthood restored, since he was ex'd a few years back. Steve keeps trying to play it down to us, but apparently he told our Branch President that he wants to be baptized with his son, which is fine by me. When we had FHE with that family last week, Steve kind of told us his testimony. He talked about how he's noticed that when he does the things that we teach; when he reads, prays, goes to church, etc., that he realizes the difference in his life. He said that he always notices when he does those things that everything seems to go right at work and home. It was really cool to hear him talk about how he's noticed the blessings of the gospel in his life. It got me wondering how much the rest of us notice such things. If we notice how well things go because of this gospel. Maybe something to keep in mind.

We've also got three baptisms set for the end of next month. I don't think I'll still be here for that, but at least whoever is new will be able to start off on a good note. 

We're hoping to be able to get another two people to commit to baptism within the coming weeks.
One of them, Rany, which I think I've talked about before, has been investigating for three weeks as of today, and he's awesome. He reads, prays, and comes to church. He'll even text us asking for scriptures to read, which is pretty awesome. He told us that he believes this church is true, and that he wants to get baptized. He just wants to wait a bit longer and study a bit more so that he knows he's doing it for himself, rather than because of other people influencing him. I feel pretty good about him, so I'm not worried. No sense in rushing or pushing him, we'll just continue to teach and guide.

Another one that we want to be able to set is Charlotte. Her partner is a less active member, but he's come to church pretty much every Sunday for the last two months. We can't do a whole lot with her now until she comes to church. Their son takes his nap from ten to one which is precisely when church is. I figure all we can do is pray, and leave it in the hands of the Lord. I'm sure He's got it all figured out, now I just need to figure out how he wants me to be going about all of it.

Our Church attendance is still pretty good, and the less actives we've been working with are still awesome.
 That's all for now.
  Love you heaps!
   E. O'Neal