Sunday, March 30, 2014

March 31, 2014

Two very awesome things happened this past week. We had a baptism on Saturday, so that's one of them, but I'll start with the other.

The first of the two awesome events happened on Wednesday. It was shaping up to be a regular day when we got a call from the missionaries in Waitara. The less-active daughter of one of their members has a that lives here in New Plymouth. Her premature month-old son was at the hospital getting prepped for a surgery for which they would have to fly him to Hamilton; so she was requesting that we go around and give him a blessing. Hopefully I haven't lost anybody yet. We went over to the hospital around four and the mother (I can't remember her name..) was waiting outside for us. She walked us through the hospital to the ward that her baby was in, and this is the part that started to blow my mind. Her son was in the Neo-Natal (the sister missionary next to me told me that's what it's called, and how it's spelled. Hold her accountable if it's not) unit, and actually had his own little room. It was amazing being in there. As soon as we walked in the Spirit totally changed. I wonder what the other people in that room attribute that feeling to; I know I attribute it to the fact that there were three premature babies in there that had just left the presence of the Father, and were struggling to hold on to life. The feeling there was so reverent, I almost couldn't believe we were outside of the Temple. The baby we were there for was only a month old and four pounds, which was promising apparently, because he had been born at only two pounds. His head was probably only about the size of my fist, and his tiny little hands like one thumb. I don't think I've ever before given a blessing that was both so easy and so hard at the same time. The Spirit was so strong that I certainly had no trouble concentrating and listening to the promptings of the Spirit, but at the same time, the Spirit was so strong that I could hardly get the words out. Once we were finished, we stood and talked with the mother a bit, and left; but I didn't want to go. I could have stayed in there all day. All I wanted to do was spend a little more time with this little one that had just left our Father. It made me wonder what I did to be counted worthy to be in this area at this time, which led to me being able to go there and bless that baby. What an awesome visit.

Now, as I said, the second thing was the baptism of Noel. Everything went pretty much without a hitch. There was a handful of members there, and everybody was very supportive and excited at the step that he was taking. I was the one that performed the baptism, the first that I have performed since baptizing Ty. Really the only thing that scared us a little was that we couldn't get the door things in front of the font to open. The lock got jammed and nothing worked until one of the members came in and manhandled it open. For a minute though, it looked as though nobody was going to be able to watch the baptism, except for the two witnesses that could have fit in the door to get in.

It's still awesome here in New Plymouth. I hope that I don't have to leave anytime soon.
 Love Ya! Kurt

Monday, March 24, 2014

March 24, 2014

What a good weekend we just finished off....

We ended up not having a zone meeting with Elder Hamula. It was all a go, then he decided to cancel it a few days back. He didn't want to come have a meeting with us without a member of the mission presidency present. It's a bit funny that it worked out that way too since the first councilor in the mission presidency, President Higgins, and his wife, were down the whole weekend and could have extended their stay for another day had they known. No worries though. One thing I learned from Sister Higgins is that if the timing isn't right, then it wasn't supposed to happen. Aside from that, I learned so much over Saturday and Sunday that I'm not sure I could fit anymore knowledge inside my head. My brain is still playing tetris with all of the awesome stuff that I learned; trying to pack it in without losing anything.

On Saturday we had interviews with President Higgins, and since we're the zone leaders, we went with him and his wife to see both districts. It was awesome. The way we ran them was while President Higgins was doing interviews we would have a Q&A with Sister Higgins. Which meant we experienced two, two hour blocks of Q&A with her. I couldn't believe how many good things she had to say. To every question that got asked, she had the doctrine to answer it, followed by a personal experience and her own feelings on it. It was awesome. Now I just need to retain everything she said.

Church yesterday was a little bit different. Since Elder Hamula was there, we had an hour and a half long sacrament, in which he talked for an hour. Followed by an hour and a half long Sunday school in which he did a Q&A. Then that evening from 5-6 he held a devotional that we were able to get three of the less actives members that we're working with to attend. There were two things that I really loved from what he talked about. Of course I loved everything, but these two things really stuck out.
The first is from Sacrament meeting, and it was him talking on the subject of the sacrament. I've actually been thinking about the sacrament recently, so it answered a few of my questions. One thing he said was that if we truly understood the significance and meaning of the sacrament, nothing could stop us from getting to sacrament meeting and partaking. No matter what obstacles might be in our way, we would never miss an opportunity to partake of the sacrament. He then talked about the sacrament itself. He quoted the part "bless and sanctify" and asked if the bread and water need to be blessed and sanctified. Does the bread and water have sins it needs remitted? Does it need to be purified? No. It's us that those two words are applying to. I thought that was awesome.

The second thing I really noticed was that at the end of Sacrament, Sunday school, and the devotion that evening, he mentioned his special witness. He bore his testimony as one called and set apart to be a special witness of Christ. Then he expounded upon his statement. He said that some might ask does he know Christ lives because he had seen him, or because he had touched him; does he have that special witness because of those things. He didn't say no. But he did say that those things don't matter. That the witness we receive from the Father through the Holy Ghost is what is important. I've thought about that before. I initially thought about it while reading Jesus the Christ. James E. Talmage mentions that Christ became who he was just the same as how we do. Line upon line, precept upon precept. He had to grow and experience life just as we do. The only difference being that he was perfect, so he had every opportunity available to him. The thing that stops us from having a perfect, secure testimony of the divinity of Christ is our own imperfections. I think about Nephi, the one in Helaman. It mentions that he was ministered to by angels daily. That's available to each of us, dependent upon our decisions. How awesome is that!?

Anyway. Aside from that, New Plymouth is still awesome. We're on schedule with Noel, he's still doing awesome. He's going to be baptized this weekend, and I'm going to be the one doing the actual baptism! It'll be only the second baptism that I have ever done. The first was with Ty when he turned eight. Should be pretty cool.

Well, that should just about do.
 Love Ya, Kurt

Here's a picture of the missionaries in New Plymouth (just in New Plymouth, we're triple covering this branch) with Elder Hamula. As well as the Senior couple that is in the zone

Monday, March 17, 2014

March 17, 2014

We didn't get to see Shelly this past week because she was dealing with some gallstones. We're hoping to be able to go around and see her this week though. Last we spoke with her and she's absolutely interested in us coming by, but it'll just have to be once she's all healthy again.

 If you remember me talking about Noel, he's still doing awesome. He's set to be baptized on the 29th, and everything is going great. Even with his bad knees that are always giving out and giving him trouble, he still shows up to Church every Sunday (this past one included). That was really awesome because we had a category 3 Cyclone coming through.

So, on to that story. Cyclone Luci just finished coming through, and we're still getting a little bit of rain from it, though now the eye is down on the South Island. It was actually pretty disappointing. We kept hearing heaps about how crazy it was going to be and got all ready for it, just to have a little bit of wind and some pockets of mildly heavy rain. Apparently the winds were rapping in from the east, so by the time they got to us on the west, they had slowed substantially. Nothing happened here, but the east coast got hammered. That's what I hear anyway.

There hasn't been a ton of work to do around here (as in, we usually only have a few appointments every day), but we've been working hard, and things have slowly been improving. We're hoping to be able to get a few more people to commit to baptism, but we just have to get them to Church first. Funny how so many people are committing to living every aspect of the gospel except for the part where they have to go to Church on Sunday. No worries though, it'll all work out eventually.

The last bit of awesome news is actually about next Monday. Elder Hamula, who's currently serving as the Area President of the Pacific Area, is coming down to work with the Taranaki district on Sunday. He's planning to go on some reach-out visits with some of the branch presidents, as well as attending our sacrament meeting. The really awesome part is that on Monday morning, he wants to have a special meeting with our zone. How cool is that? We'll get to have a little one-on-one time with a member of the first quorum of the seventy. I'm pretty stoked.

 That ought to do for this week.
 Love ya!

Monday, March 10, 2014

March 10, 2014

We actually had something totally awesome happen this past week, and I figured that I'd share that.
 Last Monday evening my companion and I had  the privilege of meeting with a woman named Shelly. She's the mother-in-law of a woman named Payton who is currently being taught by the other Elders here in New Plymouth. Shelly had woken up Monday morning with the intent of committing suicide that day. Before doing so, she decided to sit and think of all of the reasons to live. After a little while of pondering over her mortal existence, she came up with only one reason to live; her family. In particular, Payton and her child. With that thought in mind, instead of taking her life, she decided to call Payton and have her come over to help her out. When Payton showed up and learned of what was going on her first course of action turned out to be to call us. My companion  and Elder Andrus stopped by in the afternoon for a short visit, and set up a time later that night for us to come around with Elder and Sister Taylor. The Taylors went with us around 7 that night for the visit, and I spent about the next hour dumbfounded as Shelly told us her story. I won't share the particular details, but Shelly has had a hard life. The Taylors shared information about an addiction recovery class that they've been running, and my companion shared a few thoughts as well. The whole time I just sat there quiet, praying in my head for guidance as to what I could say or do to help this woman. Eventually, after a while of listening and pondering, I thought to share the story of the Savior. In particular the moment when He cried out to God, asking why he had forsaken him. The Spirit in that home was so strong. As we were leaving she told us how much of a difference we'd made, and how much we'd taught her. Since then, she's been totally different. We even got a text from her the morning after saying that she had had her first good night's sleep in two years. She attended a church meeting later in the week and apparently she was sharing experiences and reading scriptures. Things she'd told us Monday night she'd never be able to do because of her anxiety. How awesome to see the Spirit working so strongly in her. How humbling to hear that we made a difference in her life. A huge difference. Though, it wasn't really us. As members, and as missionaries, really all we are or should be is a carrier for the Spirit. He makes all the difference. We certainly don't.

How cool to be given the opportunity to see Shelly and help her at that time. Amazing to think that the Lord trusts me enough to give me that opportunity.

That was the highlight of the week for sure. Love doing the Lord's work!
 Love ya!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

March 3, 2014

I am pleased to announce that I safely received the goodies from home, and have since been engaged in munching Jelly Bellys at every possible moment. It's awesome.

Also, remember how Mom and Dad are in that Mormon message? We were watching it the other day at our branch mission leader's house and everybody instantly knew who were my parents. They're all just curious at how Dad is "built like a tank" and I'm so small. So, after seeing that, and then receiving a giant tub of Jelly Bellys, my companion and the other two elders send their love.

This past week was pretty awesome. We messed around on the beach for P-Day. However, we forgot to bring any kind of ball, so we ended up just throwing rocks and being lame. I saw a sea lion though. I was climbing around on the rocks, since it was low tide, came around into this alcove thing and almost had a heart attack. The thing was massive and sleeping about five feet from where I was. Last thing I wanted was to wake up a big animal from it's nice nap when I was only a few feet away.
Then, from the awesome P-Day onward, it only got better.

We have an investigator that is set for baptism this month and he is awesome. The first thing that surprised me about him is that he's 86 years old. It's not too often that old people want to talk to us, let alone listen to and accept our message. We taught him the law of tithes and offerings this past week, and he fully accepted it. Since he's diabetic and living on the pension, we made sure to stress that he doesn't have to fast if he can't handle it, and the church isn't expecting some exorbitant amount of money from him. Come Sunday, we weren't sure if he would even be coming to church, since his knee had been playing up when we went around on Friday, and that usually means that he can't make it. Much to our surprise, about twenty minutes early, in walks Noel. We greeted him, and as I was walking with him to a bench in sacrament, he said he had been fasting, and that he wanted to make a contribution. What a legend! He's not even a baptized member yet, and there he is following the commandments, fasting and paying fast offerings. Not to mention that when we taught him the Word of Wisdom, he was following it the next day. For the most part, this work is pretty hard, but then the Lord sends someone like Noel that is totally willing to commit. Times like this sure help me to put things in to perspective.

We've got transfers coming up next week. I reckon I'm staying here, so I'm not worried at all, but I guess we'll see.

Love Ya!

    Elder O'Neal