Monday, February 24, 2014

February 24, 2014

Mom wrote that Utah is in a drought and actually, New Zealand is in a drought right now as well. There are all sorts of water restrictions going on, like odd number houses water lawns on odd number days, even on even, and only with hand held, no sprinklers allowed. The world seems to be going crazy all over the place, but no worries, we all knew it was going to happen at some point or another.

This past week was interesting. We spent every day working hard and trying our best to be where we think we should be, but the work still went by pretty slowly. Heaps of people not home, lots of appointments fell through, but as usual there are always the shining lights. For example, we've been working with a small family since we both came into the area, and they're doing awesome. Tiana is a less active member, and her partner (unmarried = not cool at all) is not a member. There have been heaps of missionaries before, and all struggled to get them to do anything, or progress at all, but since we've come in, every time we've gone over they've kept commitments we left, and are ready to learn more. We've had to take baby steps, but they're still steps, and we've been consistently making forward progress. I love it. We stopped by last night, and Devon talked about how he's been reading and praying, and that he notices when he does so, no matter how bad the day is, it makes it better; doesn't necessarily change any circumstances, but it just makes him happier and more able to cope. How awesome is that? He then proceeded to commit himself to coming to church, so we'll see what happens next time we go around to see him.

President Swenson (my home Stake President when I left) came to New Zealand to visit since he went here on his mission years ago. He had planned to visit me in Hamilton but since I got transferred, he wasn't able to come all the way down here but he did give me a call. Apparently he ran into President Rudd at the Temple and recieved permission to give me a ring. It was pretty cool to hear from him, and hopefully President Rudd told him only good things about me to bring home and spread.

Well. That should just about do. We're headed out to participate in some more P-Day awesomeness. Gonna go for a little hike and then play touch on the beach, so it should turn out pretty cool.

Love Ya!  Elder O'Neal

Monday, February 17, 2014

February 17, 2014

What a good week last week was. I'm hoping that it doesn't mean the weeks are going to get challenging or something in the near future. It seems to me that God always gives us a little boost right before we're about to go through some serious trials. Kind of like the early saints being able to go through the Nauvoo Temple right before they were pushed all over the country. I reckon we just have heaps of good things coming our way though, so we should be good.

I guess the highlights of the week would've been our time spend with Elder Rudd, as I previously talked about, and then the mission conference with Elder Nelson. Then packed in between those two days were miracles followed by miracles. What a good week.

We had an interesting thing happen leading up to the mission conference. The conference was held on Saturday morning, and leading up to it everybody was super excited and ready to go. When we woke up Friday morning, one of the elders in the flat, Elder Andrus, was sick az. He'd been awake most of the night puking, and woke us all up with a round of it. My companion and I went for a run down at the beach, and everything was good, both of us felt great, but by the time we got back to the flat it was a different story. Not even a K from the flat, my stomach started to feel not so fantastic, and by the time we got back in I felt terrible. About ten minutes later we get a call from the sisters that are triple covering the branch with us, saying that Sister Lamoureux is sick. So we headed over and gave her some sprite and a blessing. When we got back to the flat from that I was out of commission. Since the other two felt great, Elder Andrus and I stayed back while they went out and worked. Around noon they got a call saying that Sister Wilks (sister Lamoureux's comp) was sick as well. So they went and gave her a blessing. We ended up leaving to Hamilton as planned Friday night, all of us still crook az. I figured we were going to have to spend the conference all quarantined, but alas, the Lord was watching over us. By the time we woke up Saturday morning we were all good. Nobody was sick at all anymore. It made me wonder if something was trying to keep us away, but whatever it was, it didn't work.

Kind of a long story, but I figured I'd share.

The week finished good. We set one of our investigators for baptism for the 29th of next month. We've found a lot of success with less active members in this area as well, and a bunch of them came to church yesterday. I love it when people are interested in what we have to offer and say, and care about us coming around.
Hopefully I'll have a good story for next week.
Love Ya! 

E. O'Neal
P.S. You jealous yet?

Monday, February 10, 2014

February 10, 2014

Sorry for no letter yesterday. It turns out that the mission office does not have your email, and I forgot that it had "oneal" attached behind "buddymary".. My Bad! If I would have gotten that right, then you would been aware that our P-Day got switched to today for this week. Allow me to explain why.

President Rudd's father is in New Zealand, and he came down to see us yesterday. Elder Rudd is in his late 90s, and came to New Zealand for one last time before he goes on. What an awesome man. He served in the New Zealand mission back in the 30's under Matthew Cowley, a man that we hear about heaps being in this mission. He then came back a few years later to be a mission president himself, and came back again in the 70's to be the Temple President. He served as a member of the first quorum of the 70 for many years. He told us all these cool stories about being a young bishop in the same building as President Monson when he was a new bishop, as well as recent stories of how he eats lunch with President Monson on a monthly basis, including the last occasion in which the entire Quorum of the Twelve ended up joining them. 

So, knowing that he was coming down to talk to us, we rescheduled a zone training from last week to yesterday, and had it followed by the meeting with Elder Rudd. What an awesome day it was. With that in mind, this should shape up to be one of the better weeks in the mission. This Friday night we're driving up to Hamilton for a mission conference on Saturday in which Russell M. Nelson will be speaking. What a week it will have been. Apparently he's only doing this for our mission, as well. Not sure why, but the Auckland and Wellington missions won't be so lucky. Along with that thought, we have another Temple trip coming up that only we're authorized to do since the Temple is only within our mission boundaries. What a lucky guy I am to be in this mission at this time. 

The area down here is exploding. This past week was just miracle after miracle, I can't believe the amount of work there is to do in this place that used to be totally dead when it was part of the Wellington Mission. The District Presidency climbed Mt. Taranaki on Thursday, and it seemed as though blessings were instantaneously poured out upon the district; I've never met so many keen and sincere people in one day, or even in one week. It was pretty amazing. 

It sounds like stuff is pretty mixed up back home; people all over the place, things happening left and right. I understand, it must be pretty difficult back home without my charisma and intelligence infiltrating everyone's lives. I just hope that everyone is doing alright and finding joy in the journey.

Love ya! Sorry for the day late emails.
  Elder O'Neal

Monday, February 3, 2014

February 3, 2014

It always takes a little while to get situated in a new area, but luckily for me, my companion was here previously so he knows what's going on for the most part. This is actually the first area that I've had where I didn't get shifted in with a new companion. It's what we call a double shift, and it makes it quite a bit harder to get going in an area, since you both start off not knowing anything about the branch or the investigators, the area, etc.. So this is quite refreshing.

We've got a bunch of investigators, and they're all pretty awesome. As of right now we have one person set for baptism, as well as a few others that are very close to qualifying, so we're probably looking at only a few more weeks and then we'll have some more. The branch is huge. Yesterday at church we had 140 people at sacrament, a bunch of which are returning less-active members. It's always so awesome to see when someone gets the fire rekindled. 

We're in a four man flat down here, so that's something new to get used to. Most of the time, they keep it to only one companionship per flat, no matter how big the flat is, but this one they made an exception. Apparently President only sends the missionaries that he trusts down here, since it's far away from the rest of the mission  He doesn't want anyone here that's going to just goof off. So I guess it's a good sign that I've ended up being the Zone Leader around here, along with my companion Elder Johnson (whom I don't have a picture of just quite, but I'll get there). 

I'm really hoping that I'll end up staying down here for a while. The town is relatively busy, but for the most part everything is really quiet. There's heaps of good people around, and the attitude seems to be pretty good. Even though most people aren't interested in what we have to say they're still usually willing to have a chat for a minute or two, which I think is far better than the usual rude brush off. As you can see in the picture, we're right on the beach, and it's awesome. I love the smell, the sound, the view, doesn't matter, it's all good stuff. If I'm ever rich I just need to get beachfront property somewhere. Who knows, maybe a summer home down here in New Plymouth. 

My birthday was pretty good, though not much happened for it since I moved into the area on Thursday. The senior missionary couple had us around for a pancake breakfast though, and that was really cool. It's actually been a surprisingly long time since I had pancakes, so I thoroughly enjoyed it. Then I have my mission birthday on the 27th, so that'll be pretty cool.

I'll look for some more cool places to get pictures of the new area.
 Love ya!