Tuesday, January 31, 2017

New Digs

Our new residence, beginning tomorrow will be the resort/fishing town of Whitianga (pronounced "fiteeanga"). They have only a tiny group of about 20 members attached to a branch in Coromandel.  We won't actually drive up there until tomorrow. 
But we have arrived in Hamilton safely albeit a little tired. Buddy ( dad, grandpa) is still fighting the cold he got just before we left so that's been a struggle. We spent all morning trying to get oriented to what our new jobs will be. It looks like I'll get to do some family search classes since the last senior couple that left in November had a lot of the people in the town coming to classes for that. Whitianga is a resort town so since its summer here its about twice the size of what it will be in the winter. We hear that we will be in a townhome right on the beach that has a couple of floors with its own washer/dryer and 2 or three bedrooms. We'll post more on that and pictures when we get there. We're so excited! More to follow tomorrow!

Monday, January 30, 2017

And They're Off!

It occurred to me while sitting in Church that I included pictures of some of the things we did but really no discussion of the things we felt. So, here's one example: On Tuesday, we had a wonderful fireside talk given by Elder Bednar on the Character of Christ. 
His main theme was that Christ's example was to always look out while the natural tendency of us is to look in. He related how even on the cross when He was in immense pain, He thought of the two thieves on the crosses on either side of him. 
He also told this story. Once when he was a Stake President, he received an emergency call while in the shower. He wife told him it was an emergency so he dried off as quickly as he could, put on a robe and ran to get the phone. The caller was a Relief Society president from one of the wards in his stake. She informed him that a terrible accident had occurred to three young girls in the stake and that she had received the news that one of the girls had already died. During the conversation, he could tell that this woman was also on the phone with a nurse in the emergency room talking to her at her other ear. He heard the nurse tell the woman that the girl who'd died was her daughter. This woman was a single mom and this was her only daughter but she then told Elder Bednar of the urgency to go to the hospital to identify the girls and then contact the other two families to tell them what had happened before the media or some other 2nd hand source contacted them.
 He said he could hardly believe what he was hearing. She had just been told that her only child had been killed in the accident but she was still worried about the other families. And it didn't end there.
 On the day of the funeral, the Relief Society president received a call from a sister in the ward who knew nothing of the past week's occurrence. This woman had had a cold all week and no one had brought her a meal or called to see how she was doing. She reamed the president for not remembering her. Then, this Relief Society resident, who had learned to look out, hurriedly made a meal for this unknowing sister and dropped it off to her on the way to her daughter's funeral. She was still looking outwards and not in. 
Elder Bednar's last example happened as the sister was at the viewing prior to the funeral. She came up to him and told him what a great job the funeral home had done repairing the damage that had occurred to her daughter at the time of the accident. She said she knew his memories of her daughter were horrible as he had identified her body and that she wanted him to see her now so that his memories would be better. Even in this horrible time of sorrow and grief, this admirable woman was still thinking of others, namely her caring Stake President who had also had a very stressful week. 

What an amazing example of looking outward and being an example of Christ. I have thought all week of all the times when I turn my thoughts inward and worry about myself. I want to learn to be more like Christ's example and this Relief Society president and learn to be more concerned with others and be in tune with their needs before mine. What a great story that was!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Here's the picture we took with our afternoon trainer, Brother Hollingshead. So in order, the O'Neals, the Durfees, The Jorgensons and the Wards. We had such a great time with them all week!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Our last day at the MTC

This is a bittersweet day. We're really glad we don't have to be in these tiny rooms anymore with classes all day long. But the experiences and training has been incredible. We've met so many wonderful people and had two gifted trainers, Brothers Zufelt and Hollingshead. We even took a picture with our "district":

Our morning trainer is on the left (Brother Zufelt), the Wards are next then after us is the Jorgensons and the Durfees. We're all excited to be serving the Lord!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Visa Arrived!

15 minutes before leaving the MTC today, Dad received this message from New Zealand:

Sarah Miller just informed me your visas have arrived!  Happy day.  See you soon!

Kind regards,

Sister McGregor
New Zealand Hamilton Mission

So we're leaving on Monday! Thanks for all of your prayers!!

Here's our group photo with us right in the middle. Dad (grandpa, Buddy, whatever)'s right in the middle and the only one without a suit coat. He's such a rebel or he's tired of always being hot?

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Day 2 In the MTC

And here's the obligatory "world" picture where we point to where we're going:

Missionary Training Center- 1st day

How to describe the first day of an adventure you've been looking forward to most of your life.... 
Just to drive up to the gate and being given permission to drive in and park, going in the door into the lobby and being given a badge with my last name preceded by "Sister", getting a card that gives me entry into all the proper buildings, getting my little white rule book, a schedule of classes for the week and having everybody be so kind and helpful. We were asked to introduce ourselves, tell where we were from, where we were going and what kind of a mission we were serving. Buddy made me do the mike so of course, I get all choked up and say "This is all so overwhelming.", before I can get the information out. 

There are about 50 other senior missionaries in our group of which over 50% are stay-at-home missionaries serving in their home stakes or wards. We are probably going the furthest away because you can't go further than New Zealand without beginning to get closer again, right? There were couples going to South Africa, Argentina, Ireland/Scotland, and France, to name a few. The only worrisome thing in the whole day was the news that our Visa has still not come in. No one seems worried about it though so we're just hoping for the best. Our wonderful, surreal day ended with a video by Elder Bednar challenging us to discover and develop the "Character of Christ", asking us to learn to become more outward looking and forget about ourselves, because in forgetting yourself, you can actual find yourself. A beautiful way to end a wonderful beginning.
Mary or Sister O'Neal