Monday, February 29, 2016

week 26

Hey! I'm glad that you had a good week this week! Ours was pretty successful! We weren't able to get ahold of Maria all week so that was a bummer, plus her and her sister didn't come to church, so we will have to see what is up. We taught Hector once and then he wasn't home when we went the next time. We are pretty sure he is married, so that at least eliminates the marriage problem we seem to have a lot. The woman we met two weeks ago is Lydia and this last week she said she wants to be baptized so that will be good! Jose Domingo's daughters left on Monday, so we won't be seeing them anymore. Nestor had a big complication with his marriage process that is really hard to explain in email, so he is kind of mad at the world right now. Mom asked what my schedule is like, so I'll try my best to describe it:

5ish - wake up 
7:00-8:00-eat and shower and stuff 
11:00-12:00- eat
12:00-night time-the work of the Lord!
Night time to morning- sleep
And then all over again!
(Editor's note: I thought hard about whether or not to include the next part of this letter, but companionship conflicts are a very real part of most missions. I am proud of how Joe is handling his situation, and hope that all of you who read this will join us in praying for both him and Elder Quiroz.) So it is getting pretty rough with my companion. He just tells all our investigators that I am dumb, and tells me I am dumb when I am studying and he is still in bed. Sometimes he throws rocks and garbage at me when we walk, and he won't listen to me if I have an idea because he thinks he knows better. He is actually a really really smart guy, he is just also one of the most prideful guys I have ever met. He thinks he knows better than anyone, including President Curtis. These last few months haven't been fun. I have had three changes with him. Nobody in his entire mission has been with him as long as I have. I have lost my temper a couple of times, but he just cusses at me in Spanish and says he doesn't care and ignores me. But I am trying to see him through Heavenly Father's eyes. This mission isn't the easiest and he has been here for two years, so I don't blame him for being impatient. He is nice to the people, and he teaches well. He is just malaonda (being a poop to people) with me. But it will be over soon. Only four more weeks, 27 days, but whose counting, right? haha. I actually have divisions all week this week with Elder Vargas, he's brand new, and then my Zone Leader Elder Smart, so that will be awesome. For a couple of days I will go to Elder Vargas' area and then Elder Smart will come to my area.
Here is my mission scripture translated into Kekchi for Mom (every missionary chooses a scripture before they leave, and it is engraved on a plaque that hangs with their picture in their home church building. Joe chose Ether 12:27 from the Book of Mormon.)
¨Ut wi te´chalq li winq wik´in tink´ut chiruheb´ lix q´unaleb´ xmetz´ew. Nink´e xq´unaleb´ xmetz´ew li winq re taaruuq te´wanq chi tuulaneb´xch´ool; ut tz´aqal li wusilal choq´re chixjunileb´ li winq li nexe´xtuulanob´resi rib´ chiwu; xb´aan naq wi neke´xtuulanob´resi rib´ chiwu, ut neke´paab´ank we, chirix a´an tink´e li k´a´ru q´un xmetz´ew choq´ kawilal chiruheb´.¨ ("And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.")

Wow its hard to type in kekchi haha. The pronunciation is way different, one thing that is hard to get used to is the x is a "sh" sound and the y sounds like a t-y together, so it is weird. The Kekchi is coming along a bit, but it will be better when I have a different companion. Here are some pictures from this week:
These kids are part of a less active family that we always visit.

Everyone carries stuff on their head hear like you see in pictures of Africa. In the bowl is dough to make tortillas, because that is what they live off of here.

This little guy is the son of our fecha.
This is my homie, he lives in front of our house and he always buys food for me and I let him keep the change.
This is my buddy at church, he's awesome and like a million years old so I had to take a picture with him.
And an eight-legged friend. (Aak! Joe! Why?!?)
This week for p-day we are just getting lunch, I had a hamburger that was well done, writing and getting our groceries for the week. But we are going to a birthday party tonight and we get to eat caldo (spicy soup with some part of a chicken in it) so it is a good day! I didn't like caldo when I first got here, but now I do. I want to learn to make it so I can make it for you guys when I get home! I haven't found a blanket yet, so we will see what I can do about that, maybe it will start heating up! And about the fat ties - yeah, that's the style for all the Elders in the Polochik haha. I still wear my skinny ones at church and I will when I get home. What's cool about the fat ones is that when you sweat into them they stand up on their own!
My spiritual thought this week comes from our District meeting. Our District is just Elders Helton, Gonsalez, Estrada, Vargas, me and my companion. We were talking about getting to know Christ better, and it just hit me how personal Christ can be for us and how well we can know Him, because He suffered everything we suffer and He knows us perfectly.
I love all of you!

Love, LaJ Toolok

Monday, February 22, 2016

week 25

Hey! Nothing super exciting happened this week. We are in La Tinta for p-day which is fun because we got all of my buddies together from Chulak and Senahu so all the mountain guys are together. We played soccer for a couple of hours this morning. That was pretty awesome but everyone here is really good. We ate lunch at a place that has really good meat. The bad news about being in La Tinta is that it is about two hours on the bus. We have to haul back to our area, so I don't have much time to write and the internet is awful.

Mom, you asked me to explain about my area, district and zone. I'll do my best. So the Polochic is the mountains to the North East of Coban, where there are two zones. One is Zona Senahu, the other is Zona Polochic. We are in Area Sepamak in Districto Chulak in Zona Polochic. Sepamak is the highest area in Districto Chulak.

We got dropped by Luis and his wife this week. Maria still says she wants to be baptized, but she also did not come to church this we will see what happens. We also found a new guy named Hector that we will start teaching, and a lady who lives up the mountain.

As for my health, the tests were negative, so that is good. But I only pooped in a cup once instead of three times so I might actually have parasites they just didnt tell me haha. My cold is good, just have this cough that won't go away, my companion tells me I am dying but I dont think that's true.

Our weather has been REALLY cold at night, and then during the day it can be just about anything. It wouldn't be too bad, but we don't have blankets so I just use the sheet and then I also use the scrunchy sheet thing that goes around the bed (editors note: that would the mattress pad) and put on lots of clothes. I might have to cave and buy a blanket at the Friday market, but I keep telling myself it will be pointless soon because the hot months are coming. I hear in Chulak it changes pretty randomly from being really hot or really cold so we just play it by ear. It has been raining quite a bit. Sometimes we can get hot water for a shower, it just depends on how lucky you get.

My spiritual thought this week comes from my gratitude for eternal families. Our recent converts were asking us about our families and how we could leave them for so long. And I just felt blessed to say that really two years is nothing compared to eternity!

Well, I love all of you!

Elder Toolson

Monday, February 15, 2016

week 24: keeping the faith

Hey! So I am killing Elder Quiroz! (Editor's note: Elder Quiroz will finish his mission with Joe.) And what's really awesome is my father Elder Helton (missionaries call their trainer their father) is coming to my district so I will get to hang out with him again! And Elder Gonsalez is still our District Leader, so all in all, not too shabby! 

This week we were able to set three fechas (baptismal dates) for March 5th. The first one is a girl named Maria. Do you remember when I told you about Ramona, the girl who really wants to be baptized, but whose live-in mukuy won't get married? Maria is her younger sister. Maria is 16 or 17 and dating a guy who is a member of the Church, which helps. Because she is under 18 she will need her parents permission, but they all live together in three little houses up the mountain, so I don't think it will be a problem. She has been to church a couple of times, and we have taught her three lessons. The order the lessons follow is 1) the restoration of the gospel, 2) the plan of salvation, 3) the gospel of Jesus Christ, and then 4 and 5 are about the covenants and ordinances and commandments. That is where we sometimes hit a roadblock. Things like living the law of chastity. It is hard for people to change when it is so common here to live together without being married. The second and third fechas are a guy named Luis and his wife. We found Luis walking on the street and he told us if members came to visit him he would be baptized! We've had two lessons with them so far. They came to church yesterday, so that was good. They live a little ways up the mountain. I'm not sure if they have kids or not - there are always young kids going in and out of the house, but they might be nieces and nephews.  

The two daughters of Jose Domingo that were baptized both came to church yesterday, so that is good! It looks like they might both be  going to Mexico, so we might not see them anymore. We have had one new member lesson with them, they followed it pretty well I think. The younger one has been going to Seminary. That is a really big deal here because school is different than what we have. I don't really understand it; attendance is optional. I'm not sure how old you have to be to start, or how long you go, but there are different grades. So going to seminary is a real commitment. She has to walk quite awhile to get there. It is held on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the church. They do have someone called especially to teach it.

Nestor still hasn't left yet, so we are playing that by ear. 

It probably seems weird that I am so happy when our investigators and new members make it to church. It is hard because they work a bunch, and many of them have to travel a long ways to get to the church building, so they don't want to go. But if they don't go, they don't make any progress. So when they are with us on Sundays we are very happy! 

Right now I am in Coban again because the nurse wanted me to make sure I have no worms or parasites left. I still don't have the results. I have a fever though and a cold so that is kind of a bummer, it just came on in the last couple of days. I don't know how high the fever is, but I had all the missionaries I'm with feel my face and they flipped. It doesn't help that I haven't slept since 6:30 Sunday morning - these trips to Coban are killing me. But I'm sure I will get better soon! We did get a big ole notice about the Zika virus, there isn't much we can do to avoid it though. No one I know of has it in our area.

One other complication this week, my bank card isn't working. All of the travel expenses have added up, so I was trying to use my Wells Fargo card. I budget ok, but this Coban trip kind of screwed me up. I am losing tumin (money) left and right. I will be reimbursed for travel costs, but it takes a couple of weeks. When I tried to use the card, I got a message saying that I need to talk to my bank. I don't think there is a Wells Fargo here... 

We are just waiting in the internet place until we can go back for results, it is pretty relaxed. I want to be able to type that scripture you requested in Kekchi, but I don't have my lix hu laj mormon (Book of Mormon) with me right now. I will send it to you next week! 

I have a few pictures for you...

The first two are just of some ruins in our area, I am not sure what they are from.

This little girl is the daughter or the lady who does our laundry. She is the youngest of six. If Margot was Guatemalan, I swear this is what she would look like!

The kids here are so cute and love to have their picture taken.

 "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." - Matthew 16:15

It's a dirty job, but someone's got to do it!

My spiritual thought this week comes from what I have learned about faith. This week the Zone Leaders told us we needed to set three fechas on Friday and Saturday. I told my companion that we could do those three that I told you about above, and he said no, they will never want it. I figured he was probably right because he knows quite a bit having 23 months in his mission. But I asked if we could at least try, and we went and did it! It was sweet! I'd like to say I did it, but Elder Quiroz did most of the talking and I know that I am pretty much useless without the Lord so I pretty much didn't do anything.

I love all of you!

Love, Laj Toolok, yookin chi tz'olok li ch'aabil aatinab'al wulaj wulaj (Love, Elder Toolson, I am studying the good language every day)

Monday, February 8, 2016

week 23

WE DID THE BAPTIZING THING! It was sweet, we were meeting with Jose Domingo's daughters and they said yes to baptism, and then we found out one of them is leaving for Mexico on Wednesday so we moved their date closer and they accepted and got baptized yesterday! We are hoping she can find some support in Mexico for new member lessons, she really wants to keep going to church.

Also we had all of our investigators from Nueva Concepcion (the area way up the mountain where everyone speaks Spanish) come to church. I am including pictures of that! 

We are going to try to see if Nester ended up going to Piten, I know last time we stopped by his mukuy told us that he was super drunk somewhere up the mountain so that was a bit of a shame. Hopefully we can find him and see what is up this week.

This is the last week of the change too! Not really sure how I feel, because if Elder Quiroz gets a change then I will be the only one that knows the area. So I am a little nervous for that, but excited as well!

My health is good.

I think we taught like 15 to 20 lessons this week, we focused a lot on our investigators in Nueva Concepcion and preparing them for baptism. We have 3 or 4 progressing investigators right now. I like teaching, especially the Plan of Salvation.

My spiritual thought once again (as usual) just comes from the power of prayer. These last few months have been a little rough with being sick and no success, but look at us this week! All I had to do was keep praying and have faith and The Lord provided! I hope all of you have a good week, I love all of you!


Elder Toolson

Monday, February 1, 2016

week 22

Hey! This week went alright! Me and my companion have been really struggling to stay healthy so it was hard to get a lot done, but next week should go better! I finished my meds for the tape worm and amoebas so hopefully that will stop being a problem. Actually the medication is really harsh, so it kind of made me feel worse, but hopefully it will get better this week. Oh I forgot to mention, I am in Coban right now! Again! But just for my companion this time, I decided not to take a test because I am tired of hearing I have parasites haha. We might spend the night, but I hope not. We just have to wait for my companions results.

But things are still good! Just hoping I can get healthy this week and my companion is a little more motivated. It hit him that he has less than sixty days in his mission so he is very ready to be done. It is kind of like dragging around a dead turtle that is constantly saying "no me importa, ya me voy" (editors note: basically "I don't care, whatever") over and over. But I just try to be patient. He said he would do better this week so it should be good. We are about two weeks away from transfers. This is my companions fourth change in this area (he's been there about six months), so I don't know if he will finish here, but I can see myself being his last companion. I'm just worried I will train next change. That would be good because I would be forced to speak a lot more Kekchi but I am also horribly unprepared for that haha. I really want to train at some point, actually that is the only sort of leadership position I want, I never want to be District Leader, or Zone Leader, and really not Assistant to the President haha, but trainer would be awesome! I just dont know if I am ready...

Our area is kind of struggling. Jose Domingo actually decided to drop us this week, he said he hasn't seen any miracles in his life in the month we have been teaching him, so he doesn't feel like it is helping him. We tried to explain that sometimes it takes years and years to gain any sort of knowledge, and all we can do is have faith. He just said that if his family wants they can still continue but he is done. So I was pretty sad, but then on Sunday two of his daughters showed up to church. We showed them The Testaments (if you are interested in watching this movie, we can lend you our copy) and afterwards challenged them to baptism. They are going to give us their answer this Wednesday so that is awesome! We are trying to get this girl named Ramona married but her mukuy doesn't want to. It is actually fairly heartbreaking because she really really wants to be baptized and can't. Nestor decided to leave again... he is going to leave on that was another huge bummer.
My spiritual thought this week comes from a broadcast that Quentin L. Cook gave (Oh yeah! Quentin L. Cook came to our mission! I didn't get to see him, but he did a broadcast for our mission alone!) He explained how he helped write Preach My Gospel with the First Presidency and how mission calls are assigned. The first piece of advice he told us is that "you are kingdom builders!" At the end of his message he gave us an Apostolic blessing that we would be comforted and know that we are doing more good here than at home. It was really sweet to see the work of an Apostle so personal and plain in front of me.

I love all of you!

Love, Elder Toolson