Monday, September 29, 2014

September 29, 2014

I had some good news this past week. When I left Rotorua we had a father and his boys set for baptism, and it went through! Just stinks that I wasn't able to be there for it. Seems like every time that I find someone that's really awesome, and they get set for baptism, I get transferred out shortly there after. No good. Also had some pretty bad news recently too. Turns out one of the guys from my first area didn't make it to baptism. He was the man too. When I was there we were teaching him three times a week, and within about four months he'd almost finished the Book of Mormon. After I left he just kept going strong, going to church every week, always participating in class, just really on to it. He had to wait to be baptized until August, since he was on probation. August came and went without him being baptized, and now he's got a girlfriend and doesn't attend anymore. It crushed me just a little bit to see someone that I spent so much time with, and saw get so far, end up not making it through. Who knows. There's always more time.

Well. Had a pretty decent week here in Kawhia. I keep getting reminded over and over again how much fun it is to no longer be in leadership. We were out for a run on the beach the other day and it hit me again how happy I am here. Nothing like a jog on a never ending and totally deserted beach to help me realize that I pretty much don't have a care in the world right now. So good. My dream is that I get one more super awesome companion, and finish up here.

We had a really good experience with a non member family a few days back as well. We went with one of the members to follow up with a girl that's in the family. She'd previously been set for baptism, but had gone to Aussie for ages so it fell through. I didn't know any of the family, so I was pretty much just following the lead of my comp and the member. We sat down and they started talking about if the girl could be baptized, etc.. The Mum had a few concerns, and as I sat listening I could see it all going dangerously close to becoming a sales session. She raises concerns about why she isn't totally alright with her daughter being baptized, then the other two respond with this and that in an attempt to quickly resolve the matter and get this girl set for baptism. That's not at all my style. I'm not at all cool with baptizing someone who has no family support. I've seen it done and it never seems to work out. So instead of focusing on her daughter, I changed up the convo and ended up teaching the mum. Turns out she doesn't understand a whole lot of anything about us. For starters she was under the impression that the Book of Mormon was our bible, and not an additional bit of scripture to go hand in hand with the Bible. I shared a bit from 2 Nephi 29 (not the "thou fool" part, but the part about a testimony of two nations). Once she understood a bit more about our scriptures, I focused on the part from 2 Nephi 29:9 about God being the same, and tied it into the restoration. It's hard to explain, but man was it awesome. By the time we left she asked us to leave a copy of the Book of Mormon, because she wants to read it, and her attitude was totally different. I don't have any idea if she's start to seriously investigate the gospel, but for that moment, she knew she'd felt something. It's always amazing to watch the Spirit work.

Well, I hope it all made sense. If not, say a prayer and maybe the Spirit will help you.
Ka Kite!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

September 22, 2014

It's done nothing but rain buckets everyday for the past week, which translates into this place being so indescribably green that it feels like I'm living on a giant green Crayola. Couple that with the beautiful blue ocean / bay area and my mind is sufficiently blown. Not sure how it's going to be returning to a desert n stuff. I may have to move to Cali. Or not, since Cali is yuck.
On another note. We had stake conference over the weekend, and it ended up being really awesome. The talks weren't extraordinary or anything, but within the Temple View stake is Cambridge. Which meant that I got to see some of my old peeps from C-town! I was pretty stoked. Even though I've been away from Cambridge for over a year now, it's still the place I feel most at home. It's the area that I've kept decent tabs on ever since I left. Everywhere else was awesome too, but that first six months there made it my home away from home. The only thing that stunk a bit about having conference was that it was held in Hamilton. The adult session on Saturday was in Temple View, and the Sunday session was at my old chapel in Dinsdale. In order to get to either of those places we have to take an hour long drive through super curvy, tight roads that go up through the "mountains" between here and there. Through the windies, this corolla's got me thinking "see what I mean about the shocks?" (I reckon Burke should catch that quote). Not to mention that on the way back on Saturday night it was an absolute deluge, which made it even more sketchy since the hills like to wash out onto the road. Had to dodge a couple of new dirt piles around a few corners.
Time seems to be flying by here. Seems like I just showed up, and now transfers are just around the corner again. Funny how fast time goes by once you click into pretty much the same routine everyday.
I hope everything's going sweet back home. Everybody better be good.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

September 15, 2014

You're having rain too? Good, that means you understand my misery. It's done nothing but rain every day since I got here, pretty sure. But it's all good. The rain just means that spring is right around the corner.

We spent most of the past week doing service for people. Well, what little we could get done before getting rained out each day. One of the days, we were able to clear a decent section of this guy's fence line. He'd chopped out a giant hedge, and there was loads of stuff left all over the ground, not to mention a bunch of new stuff growing in now that there was fresh dirt. Took us about four hours to get it all done, and afterward the guy was really happy about it. I have no idea who he is, but we've now got a friend just around the corner. Certainly doesn't hurt to have friends in a tiny little town such as this.

I've been able to work out heaps since coming here as well, which is exactly what I wanted. I don't think I've used morning exercise time since my first three weeks out. Then I started just getting up and getting ready, because I am far too un-motivated to be working out hundy as right after I wake up. BUT. This place is changing me. I was hoping to have an area for the last few months in which I would have the motivation to work out, and now I've got it. We've been exercising most every morning with some of the community, and as much as I'd rather just shower and chill out instead, it's been good. Not to mention it's a really handy way to get to know people. And since we've been doing that I've gotten quite a bit more motivated in general, and have been working out every other available time of the day that I can. Needless to say, I'm pretty stoked that I'll be getting back as fit, if not more fit, than when I left. As opposed to the much dreaded come back fat kind of guy. I think I put on about 20 lbs in the MTC, and have since lost it all and gotten back to where I was. Word of advice for those going out in the near future, the MTC cafeteria is a trap. Don't do it! Just go easy on it!

This coming week we're pretty much looking at the same as last; service, service, and more service. Which I am totally alright with. Should be sweet!

Monday, September 8, 2014

September 8, 2014

Had a pretty decent past week.

So far it hasn't been all that beautiful of weather here. It's mostly overcast with periodic rain fall. Though, it is spring here so what did I expect eh?

The way we go about stuff here is so much different from anywhere else I've served. Some of it is because it works better, and a bit is because there hasn't ever been missionaries stationed here before, so there's a bit of growing pains in helping the members understand how to go about things.
Had and interesting experience this past week with one of the members. We got a text saying that he was waiting for us at the school, so we cruised over, thinking that he must have some sort of teaching appointment set up. I followed my comp into the room that he was in and instantly regretted it. Turns out that it was some sort of financial literacy seminar that BNZ (Bank of New Zealand) was hosting. It was too late to turn back though, so we took a seat. I'm not really sure why, but man was I angry. We had to sit for an hour while this lady talked about a bunch of super simple stuff that I still remember from high school.  Not cool. Then after she finished and started cleaning up, our member speaks up about how good of a class it was, but while we're learning about the temporal, we need to learn about the spiritual as well. Then he turns to us and goes, "well, you got three minutes." What? That is not the way to try to share the gospel. Not to mention we're in a totally inappropriate setting, but I was still seeing a bit of red, and was in no condition to start teaching people that we have a loving heavenly father. Turns out the lady teaching is from a place called Te Kuiti, and is already talking to the missionaries there. Thank goodness. I don't know. Maybe I should always be prepared to preach in every single situation. But it seems to me like there's the right time, and not the right time, and that was one of those not the right time moments.

Aside from that, I'm working on getting people out of the pamphlet mentality. They seem to have this mindset where all they do is give out pamphlets, then never discuss them. We went to a guy's house yesterday, and instead of discussing the last pamphlet that we shared, they wanted to go straight to handing him another one and then leaving. Eh? It's been really eye opening to see the different levels of ability in missionary work. One thing about being a zone leader was that you're paired up with another zone leader, and for the most part, zone leaders are fairly well versed in how to teach. It's been interesting going from a situation in which my companion and I teach effectively together, to being back with an islander that's still struggling a bit with English, let alone explaining the doctrines of the kingdom effectively.

Anyway, I hope that all made sense. Just goes to show that's there's a whole lot more in this than it appears on the surface.

Other than that, we've done a heap of service. Even went out to a farm the other day and helped do some fencing. I think we're going back out this week too. Should be good.
Ka Kite! Elder O'Neal

Had an interesting discovery yesterday at church. A few months back I got a new set of pocket sized military scriptures. I've been using them for my church scriptures ever since, but somehow never had to use anything from 3 Nephi 6 - Mormon. Otherwise I would have previously discovered that my copy doesn't have anything between 3 Nephi 6 and Mormon. Not to mention the duplicate books...