Sunday, December 29, 2013

December 30, 2013

First off. Telling me about awesome meals that everyone back home is eating is no big deal. You can't make me jealous talking about food. If you talk about dirt bikes, then you have roughly 100% chance of making me jealous, but as far as food goes the members have my back.

It was awesome to be able to skype the family. I was a little worried that it was a little boring for the family. It seemed like the time just disappeared, and we weren't even really able to talk about much. All good though. After we were done I walked out and had to just sit and remind myself that I'm in NZ, even though I had just been looking at my sister Jen's basement. So weird. Christmas Day was actually really awesome, even though I'm in a foreign country with no family around. It's awesome to see how willing the members always are to help us out and have us around. We ended up having breakfast, lunch, and two dinners with member families, with a perfect amount of time in between feeds to digest and regroup for another massive munch. Needless to say, that would have been enough, but then we ended up having a bunch of members come by the flat around 9 to drop off more food n goodies. With how awesome the members are here, it makes me hope that the ward back home is doing the same. They better not be slackin off. If they are, give em a quick slap for me. It's amazing how much of a difference the members make in the work. If the ward has a good positive attitude about missionary work, then the missionaries will have a good positive attitude. At least, that's what I've noticed for myself. 

The weather's been pretty good around here. Especially if you ride dirt bikes. It keeps raining in the morning, then goes super sunny in the afternoon. So every evening all I see is heaps of dirt bikes coming back from the track covered in mud. It's been killing me, to say the least. Every once in a while, when we're riding bikes, I secretly imagine that I'm riding my dirt bike; start clutching with my left hand, twisting my right foot like I'm tapping the brake, changing gears with my left... It's childish, I know, but we're told small and simple things make the biggest difference, right? I'm going to justify it with that, regardless. 

We weren't able to do a whole lot more than visit the members this past week, so there wasn't a whole lot happening as far as teaching goes, but we were able to finally have another lesson with Jaime on Saturday. It'd been something crazy like 4 weeks since our last actual lesson, and 2 weeks since the last time we'd seen her at a baptism she came to. I was a little worried going over, because who knows what could have happened to deter her since our last lesson, but she turned out to still be just as awesome as ever. Everything we talked about she agreed with, or said it was what she's always believed anyway. We're hoping to be able to invite her to be baptized this coming week, if we can see her. The only problem being that she hasn't been to church yet. She's gone to sacrament meetings before with friends and stuff, but she hasn't been to our ward yet because she works Sundays, and it's a requirement that investigators attend at least 3 Sundays prior to baptism. Hopefully a solution will present itself.

Love you all, and I hope you have a happy New Year.
 E. O'Neal

P.S. Launch some fireworks off for me.

Monday, December 16, 2013

December 16, 2013

Ahh this week.. Lets see.

We had a pretty good week that culminated in a very stressful Saturday morning. One of the sister companionships in the district had a baptism, and we had managed to invite Jaime, our awesome investigator (who we've been having trouble seeing because this time of the year is just too blasted busy). The baptism was at ten, and I wasn't sure whether Jaime would remember or not, or wake up late and not make it, etc. Needless to say, my faith was lacking, but after a few fervent prayers I felt pretty confident that everything would be alright. At around 9:30 she texted saying that she was just getting ready and would maybe be a little bit late, but that she was for sure going to make it. When the program started up, instead of sitting inside we figured we'd wait out in the hallway for Jaime. It got to be about 10:15 and I started to get nervous again, so to try and settle some of my  fears we walked to the front of the building to make sure the doors were unlocked, and then looked out down the street to see if we could see her, since she was going to be walking. We went back and sat, the baptism happened, awesome talks were given, and Jaime never showed up. Once it was over, I was pretty dejected. I was thinking maybe she had gone to the wrong chapel, because I couldn't picture her just ditching out like that. We walked into the room to mingle and congratulate Jess on being baptized, and the first person I see is Jaime. I've never been so relieved in my life. Turns out she had showed up right when we had gone to check the front doors. We'd missed her because of my lack of faith that everything would be alright, and I spent the whole time stressing out and worrying for no reason. I felt like a real idiot. 

The other cool thing that happened was actually last night. The Temple here does Christmas lights (like Temple Square, just way less impressive) and we got invited to go there and work as greeters coming into the gates. We started at 7, and basically just talked to a never ending flow of people until 10. There were a few drunk people and rude people, but for the most part everybody that came was willing to talk to us. It was so refreshing to be able to talk to people and have them respond, rather than the usual one we get where people just totally ignore us or go all stone faced and fast-walk by. It was really crazy being allowed to stay out after 9 too. Getting a ride home with the sister missionaries at fifteen past ten was a new experience. We're hoping that we'll get at least a couple of referrals out of the lights that we can go contact. I'd love to have some new people to talk to and teach.

Anyways, I'm getting pretty excited to be able to skype for Christmas. Hopefully I don't get transferred on Thursday, because heaps of members here have offered to have us over for a munch and skype.
 Love ya!
  E. O'Neal

This is my district. They're all looking in different directions because there were about a thousand different cameras. My companion is the one with glasses. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

December 9, 2013

Here's a couple of gift ideas if anyone is feeling like sneding a care package to a missionary. Mike n Ikes. New Zealand doesn't have em, and I've been craving them for the last two weeks. Ah! Everyone keeps telling me to just eat some jelly beans, but obviously that's not going to solve the problem. Jelly Bellys as well, these Kiwis just don't understand the difference.  

It was a really rainy week. Every morning I'd wake up to the sun coming in the window, but by the time we got ready to go out the rain would start back up hardout. I'm pretty surprised that I haven't gotten sick or anything yet, but then again, I've been pretty good ever since basic training. 

People have been getting a little bit more into the Christmas season, but it still doesn't seem like Christmas to me for lack of snow. Someone is selling cheap Christmas trees down the road and we were tempted to go pick one up, but it'd probably be a much bigger hassle than anything else, so we ended up not doing it.

We've been having a bit of difficulty with setting up appointments this past week with those that we're teaching because of it being the Christmas season and everybody is busy with family stuff. We kept trying and trying, but by the time we got to the end of the week we realized that we hadn't been able to teach any lessons because people kept cancelling on us, or we'd show up and their family would be there for an unexpected visit. Not cool. We ended up seeing lots of members, and talking about how they can help us out. Everyone is really on board to get us people to teach, and already we've had a couple of families go talk to their neighbors and set up appointments for us. We're hoping to be able to get a fair amount of first lessons this week from it. Even though it's hard at times finding new people to teach, I still love this area. What an awesome place. Close to the only Temple in New Zealand, and it's filled with some of the most awesome members. Hopefully when I go home and start getting all caught up in life, I can remember to take a little time and be an awesome member missionary. 

Before I close off I thought I'd better give a little shout out to those that have sent hand written letters. I kept meaning to send ones back, but I've never actually gotten around to it. My bad. I love having those though. It's cool to be able to look through the old letters when I'm sitting at the flat, instead of just reading emails on Monday. I think I have three just from Angela alone, so thanks Angela!
 That should rap it up for now.
  Love ya!
   Elder O'Neal

Sunday, December 1, 2013

December 2, 2013

It's super strange coming into the Christmas season and not having any snow. I keep thinking about Christmas and how cold it's going to be, then I remember that it's going to be even warmer than it is now. So pretty much it doesn't feel like Christmas at all, it just feels like summer. I generally don't pay that much attention to what month it is because it's surprisingly difficult wrapping my head around it being totally opposite.  What I'm really not excited about as well is that we'll have our transfers the week before Christmas. So basically, not only will I be nervous about transfers because we have some awesome investigators that I'll have to leave, but then I'll have to spend Christmas in a super strange place where I don't know anybody, and it'd make it that much worse. One plus about being in this mission though... We get to Skype on Christmas. So just let me know when it is that ya'll want to Skype and we'll suss it out. Christmas eve type of thing like what we did with Rusti last year? People around here don't seem like they get huge into Christmas, but it's all the same as stuff back home; they get big blow up snowmen and have Christmas trees. All the movies they watch are the same. They just don't go ham with the lights and decorations as much as back home. The temple here does lights too, just not nearly as much as Temple Square. Heaps of people go to it though, and we're hoping that we'll be able to get some new people to teach from it. 

I've found that I'm totally susceptible to getting really stressed out just like the rest of the family. This whole District Leader thing gets to me hard out sometimes. I have no idea why either. I've just been trying to focus on ways to help out all of the missionaries in the district; inspire and motivate. So far I haven't had to tell anybody off for anything, and I'm hoping to be able to avoid that situation at all costs. I also have to do things like exchanges with the other elders in the district, and companion study with the sister missionaries. It feels pretty weird that I'm still just learning every day, and I'm nowhere near perfect, but now it's my job to try and teach others how to be better missionaries. I usually just try to be totally honest with everyone and let them know that I'm totally lost in the sauce most of the time but doing my best to figure it all out. So far it's been going pretty good too.
Another thing that I've noticed is that I still hate role playing. All the return missionaries out there probably know what I'm talking about. It's awesome, but man I still do not like doing them.
That'll just about do it I think.

 Fa soifua,
  Elder O'Neal