Monday, July 28, 2014

July 28, 2014

What a good week we had! Last Sunday, a nonmember family walked into the chapel. We were able to get their details and started going around to teach them. We saw them a few times this past week and they're awesome. The oldest boy, who's twelve years old, was able to attend youth night and he loved it! So he'll be going again this week. From what I hear the fellowship that night was really good, and hopefully he walked out with a couple more friends. We were able to go around and see them on Friday. We weren't sure if we were going to be able to have a lesson or not with them, but it ended up working out really well. We taught them about the Plan of Salvation, and at the end were able to set them for baptism! So cool! It feels good to have a family that wants to hear the gospel and change their lives. It seems like so much of the time we're trying to inspire the desire, but this time around, the desire was already there, and we're just being the guides to a better life. I wish it happened like this all the time. They made it to church again yesterday, and they said they enjoyed it; which I was nervous about, since they had to leave after sacrament, and the best part of church for kids is the classes. At least, I remember how boring sacrament was to me growing up, but these kids liked it. They even like singing hymns. What's that all about? I reckon it's pretty awesome.

We've been enjoying good weather as well. For pretty much the entire last week it was sunny and clear every single day. It's usually about 15 degrees C. (or about 60 degrees F.), and as long as the wind isn't blowing it's perfect for walking around in. Only problem is at night when we're walking around, it's ends up way too cold. Makes me nervous too think about how I'm probably a huge wimp now with weather, since it's usually pretty awesome here so long as it's not raining. Then when it's time to go home next year it'll be mid Feb. None too excited about that.

For the coming week there's a cool conference going on.. if you're Polynesian. Talk about a racist conference. haha. Heriwini Jones is doing a mission conference for all of the Islanders in the mission. So on Wednesday, my companion will leave with a few other missionaries from the zone for Hamilton. I'll stick around with some of the other Elders here in Rotorua until they get back in the late afternoon. The first conference kind of like this was a super secretive Sisters one a while back. Where's my pakeha (white boys) conference? Or an Elders conference? Won't happen eh, look at how picked on I am.. Nah. All good. I just thought it was funny. The first reaction from all of the pakeha missionaries in the zone was, "well that's racist." I'm mostly just sad because I love learning about the history of the islands. Especially as it pertains to New Zealand. Folks seem to really respect when you know about their whakapapa, and when you can speak te reo Maori. Which is why I've been working on learning both.

Well, that should just about do it for this week.
 Ka Kite Ano!
  Kaumatua O'Neal

Monday, July 21, 2014

July 21, 2014

Transfers were this past week, and I got a new companion now. Elder Moore got called to be one of the new Assistants, so I'm now with Elder Sharma. Funny thing is that the three of us came out at the same time. It's interesting to be companions with people that I was with in the MTC. It keeps bringing back memories of the MTC, and making me realize how long I've actually been out. Crazy stuff. Elder Sharma is a Fijian Indian. Which basically means that his grandparents moved to Fiji from India, and he's really not Fijian at all. He's good though. Since he came in we've seen an explosion in the work. Not sure if it's because he's here and he has an exceedingly great amount of faith or what, but it's been pretty awesome.

Yesterday at church, right after we finished teaching the gospel principles class, one of our investigators came to talk to us. He's an older man, in his mid 60s I think, and he's been investigating the gospel for over 20 years now. Elder Moore and I had gone around once right when I first got into the area, but ever since then he's been really busy and hasn't been able to meet with us. Come to find out, he was working on something at his house and had a really powerful moment of clarity. He said he felt something really strongly, and knew that he had to be baptized. Then not too long after that, he was with a couple of his mokos (grandchildren) and had the same feeling and thought that he needed to be baptized. So he approached us after class, told us the story, and said that he's ready to be baptized. How awesome is that? He's been to Church almost every Sunday for many years, doesn't have any concerns with commandments, and finally received his answer. If I somehow manage to stuff this one up, I think I'll just turn my badge in and announce my resignation.  We'll be seeing him this Wednesday, and hopefully be having a baptism within the next few weeks. Time for some fervent prayer eh.

Aside from that, we were able to find a handful of new people to teach that pretty much just dropped out of the sky. We were given an assignment to give a blessing to a lady that lives in our area Saturday night. Turns out she's a non-member whose family are mostly members. We ended up teaching her and her husband about the restoration and bam, two new investigators. Then at Church we had bishop pull us out of class to introduce us to a man and his family that just walked into the building because he wants to learn about Jesus Christ and be baptized. Bam, four new investigators. Then after Church one of the missionaries for the other ward called us to see where a certain street was and if it was in his or our area. A man had attended their ward and said that he was thinking about baptism. He said he'd been taught before and gave the missionaries his address. Wanna guess where the street is? In our area, right around the corner from our flat in fact. Bam, another investigator. What a weekend it turned out to be.

I'm hoping to have another smashing week this week, and I'm praying the weather keeps holding out. Haven't had rain since Wednesday or something, and it's been awesome. Still cold, but at least it's not wet.
 Love ya!
  Ka Kite Ano!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

July 14, 2014

Just got the pictures from the family reunion. Oi. Talk about missing out. Nobody could wait to have fun with me. I see how it is. You should have taken a picture where everyone looked sad, holding a cardboard cut out of me, just crying since I couldn't be there. Then just left it at that. But no, turns out that, contrary to popular belief, people can have fun when I'm not around. Don't worry, next time will be way more awesome, and then everybody will realize how much fun they didn't have at this last one.

Also, so awesome to see my new nephew! I reckon by the time I get back I'm not even going to know half of the family. But it's always really cool to be able to tell people how big and awesome my family is. I do find a bit of pride in ya'll.

Had the rainiest week so far of the mission, and apparently it's only going to get worse as some massive storms works it's way down the island. I was on exchange Saturday, and we ended up walking two hours to the chapel as the rain came flooding down. Never been so drenched in my life. There's something weird with the rain here too. For some odd reason it puts yellow stains on our white shirts wherever it dries, so hopefully that comes out. Not sure if it's a New Zealand rain thing, or if it always happens that way and I've just never been in the rain in a white shirt before, either way, pray that it doesn't stay stained, because I'm about to be running out of white shirts really quickly otherwise.

We haven't had any baptisms yet in this area, but the rest of the zone has been picking up. We've had a baptism almost every weekend since I got here, and there were three for three different sets of missionaries on Saturday. Being the zone leaders we try to attend as many as we can to show our support, and to also see how the services are going; in order to take good things that happened and implement them in other services, or see where we can improve. Since we were on exchange my companion attended the first baptism that happened, I attended the second, and then we exchanged back and both went to the third. It was a really cool experience being able to be somewhere where the Spirit is so strong twice in one day. One thing that I noticed really helped was something that the Sisters did at their baptism. There's always that little period of time after the baptism when the people are getting changed, and most often it's just dead time, where people are standing around chatting. As a mission we've been trying to capitalize on that time period, and the Sisters did an excellent job. Instead of milling around, they got everyone quickly back into the chapel as another set of sister missionaries were singing a hymn. They then quickly taught the message of the Restoration, and showed a short Mormon Message on it as well. The difference in Spirit between that service, and the earlier one in which the missionaries hadn't done anything in that gap time, was absolutely noticeable. I couldn't believe it. It really got me to thinking about how my baptisms have been in the past, and if I have ever taken full advantage of that time. Probably not. But now I know to do better in the future, eh? When you think about it, a baptism may be the only time that a non member steps into the building or hears anything about the gospel. We may as well pounce on the opportunity and share a powerful message while there's the powerful Spirit that attends a baptism.

We'll hopefully be going to a Maori thermal village today to get to see some cool geysers 'n such. Should be sweet.
 Love ya!
 Ka Kite Ano!

Monday, July 7, 2014

July 7, 2014

God got a new volleyball.

We've been running a sports night every Friday night and it's been awesome. We usually have volleyball and table tennis set up inside, then there'll be a few folks outside playing basketball. We usually have a turnout of around 50 or 60 people, and it's proved really useful in getting the members to fellowship our investigators. The only problem we've been running into is that the member that usually brings the volleyball net and ball hasn't been coming, so we've been using a tennis net that was in the flat, and a really hard volleyball. I'm not sure how nice the ball is; supposedly it's a pretty nice ball, but it's so hard that it hurts to play with. So Friday we get a genius idea to go buy a new Volleyball. So the ten missionaries that're here in Rotorua chipped in five bucks apiece and we were able to go get a pretty nice $50 ball. Sports night ended up being pretty empty, but we still had enough people to play a good game, and two guys came in that live in our area, so we ended up with two new investigators (which I'm not about to complain about). Of course, nothing ever goes perfectly. The ceiling in the cultural hall where we play is probably about 30ft tall. Not too bad. It's not a regular ceiling though. Instead of the tiles like what we have back home, it has big rectangular foam tiles. Probably about 2x4 ft. Every now and again a ball will get smacked up into the ceiling and a tile will get popped out. So right now there's three rather large gaps in the ceiling where said tiles got knocked from. About an hour into our sports night, one of the more uncoordinated members served the ball a little too hard, and it went straight through one of those gaps never to return. We were so gutted! We buy a brand new ball and bam-goes up there never to return. The only way to get it back would be to get one of those lift machines or a REALLY tall ladder (which isn't about to happen). Can't even climb up into the rafters or anything because for some odd reason they put in the ceiling without using any. All I can come up with is that missionaries in the spirit world were having a sports night too, and unfortunately there's no Rebel Sports up there.

We really struggled being able to get teaching appointments over the past few days, but we've still been able to make progress. We got a new bishop in a few weeks back, and it seems to me like it's pushed the ward to do a little bit more. So we were able to have members come out with us four times over the past week. That was a step up from zero, so I was pretty stoked. The only problem is that it's all the same group of members that's stepping up to the plate. Seems as though there's always the ones that respond, and the rest just get worse. Not usually much middle ground with it, just both ends of the extreme.

My Maori has been getting better! We went to one of the flats in the zone, and they had a te reo Maori book in there from one of the past missionaries. Brand new too! It doesn't look like anyone ever even touched it. So I've been studying that in my off time, and been reading heaps more of Ki Te Pukapuka A Moromona. It's awesome! Nothing beats the feeling of having the Spirit working to help you learn. I'm pretty happy that I didn't have to learn a mission language though. I can only imagine how rough the first few months must be of not knowing what in the world is going on around you.

Still loving it here! Just a bit cold. Pretty sad I'm the one missing from the family photo, but all good.
 Love Ya!