Monday, March 28, 2016

week 30

Hey! So we were able to find a new family this week, which was awesome! Their names are Anna and Carlos. The problem is that they have a really hard time understanding the gospel. So it is slow work. I'm going to share a part of our lesson on the trinity because it is actually pretty funny. First I will explain that we explained the trinity very simply: God is the Father of Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ is His Son and suffered for us, and the Holy Ghost is a Spirit that helps us make decisions. Ok, so here is how the conversation went...
Me: Ani li Yuwa´b´ej? (who is the Father)
Carlos: Laa´in (I am)
Me: Wha....ok... Ani li Kajolb´ej malaj li Jesukristo (Who is the Son or Jesus Christ?)
Carlos: Laa´o (we are)
Me: Ani li Santil Musiq´ej (Who is the Holy Spirit?)
Carlos: (pointing to his three year old son) A´an...oyb´eni oyb´eni! Lix Yuwa´ li Yuwa´b´ej (He is....wait wait! The father of The Father)
Needless to say I think we need to revisit this next lesson haha.
So right now I am in El Estor for pday. As for changes, I am staying in Sepemak! My new companion is named Elder Vargas. He only has two changes left in his mission...I am pretty nervous, I am not too hyped to have another companion that is going home soon. I am really happy to stay in my area, I just wish I was with someone younger than me in the mission so I could speak Kekchi more. But I'm sure it will be fine! Elder McEntee has been in the same district with Elder Vargas for two changes, and he told me he was cool, so I have hope. Nobody else had a change so I still have Elders Helton and Gonsalez.
For Easter we had about a five hour meeting at church where they showed a video of Jesus Christ, and then gave out some bread. The video was pretty long, and the meeting was kind of like a testimony meeting with speakers planned to talk. Once you get a Kekchi person talking, it never ends haha. Everyone stayed the entire time, including a bunch of nonmembers. To a lot of people here church is church, whether in our church or theirs, so they don't really care. They heard there would be food, so that was that. Elder Quiroz and I talked a bit and led some music. I can do ok getting up and talking now, and I understand pretty well. My talk was about the Atonement.
So my spiritual thought this week is actually pretty dope so I am excited. Saturday when we started visiting, I started getting a fever and it was super hot. But I had promised Quiroz we would say goodbye to whoever he wanted, so we stayed out a lot later than usual trying to fit everyone in. I was dying. The next morning I had a bit of a fever but I was ok enough to go to most of church so that was good. Then we traveled down to Se´ococ to our District Leader´s house and that is where it hit me real bad. I just laid down and I couldn't hear very well, sometimes when I opened my eyes all I could see was red and blue. My throat hurt like a bear, like when I had my tonsils taken out. My District Leader touched me and he said he had to pull his hand back because I burned him and then Elder Quiroz touched me and basically said ¨what the heck!! My hand is still shaking because he is so hot!¨ I asked Elder Gonsalez to give me a blessing, and here comes the spiritual part. I didn't get better or anything but during the blessing I just felt super loved. I don't really know how else to say it. I just realized that even though I was, like, dying, Jesus Christ felt exactly what I felt, and so much more! Man am I grateful for Him.  
I am still pretty sick with a sore throat and headache, and my fever is in and out, but I'm better than yesterday. We are just taking it easy today. My throat literally feels like it did when I had my tonsils out, it hurts really flipping bad to swallow and to eat. Yesterday and last night was the sickest I remember being in my whole life. I just hope I get better soon so we can start off on a good foot this change with my new companion. (Editor's note - we were able to catch Joe on the computer for a minute this morning. They don't need prescriptions to get medication in Guatemala, so Kurt told Joe what to ask for in Spanish. He is going to a pharmacy today so he should be able to get going on some antibiotics, but all of your prayers for his health and new companion would be appreciated!)
I love all of you!

Love, Elder Toolson 

Monday, March 21, 2016

week 29

Hey! Pretty good week this week! Divisions with my District Leader, Elder Gonsalez, were awesome. I am including a lot of pictures for that...

I also wanted to send a picture with inyuwa´ (my father) Elder Helton. This was taken after p-day last week, we were in their area and were about to play soccer. I'm going to miss that guy when he goes home in six months. He's from Maryland; I think he might go to Utah Valley University.
Speaking of months, I think I hit my eight months today, that's crazy!
I have learned A LOT about the power of the Atonement, prayer and fasting. The Atonement can literally forgive anything and we can not only use it when we have sinned, but just when we are having a rough time. And prayer and fasting... to put it simply, it works. I've also learned things about myself. I am not as patient as I thought. And I have bowel strength I never dreamed I had, haha. Sometimes I feel the Spirit with me so strong, and sometimes not. It can be hard to keep it with me in the mountains, being dirty and tired and struggling for success, but I try my best.

Zone conference was so awesome! I got to see my buddies Elder McEntee and Elder Reed so that was a lot of fun. This is what we did: we showed up and ate a little, then Hermana Curtiss started talking about the Atonement. She said so many good things, she is awesome. She talked about Christ's love for Heavenly Father and for us, and how He knows us perfectly, and He is the One who will judge us. Then four people gave talks (thankfully I wasn't one of them.) Then Sister Curtiss finished with talking about the Atonement more. After that, the Assistants to the President (pictures of them included, they are the two tall white guys) talked about the videos we can use for Easter. Next we split into three groups. The first was with our Zone Leaders, who talked about our job as missionaries and related it to soccer players. Just like a goalie has qualities that help him, like being fast, having good reflexes and good vision, missionaries need qualities like hope, faith, love, diligence, and obedience to succeed. After that we met with the other Zone Leaders and talked about how to do challenges and verify with investigators. Finally President Curtiss talked about diligence. He read these points from Preach my Gospel, getting us all motivated. Then we ate some really good burritos and some of the chocolate covered ice cream sticks!

As far as the work goes, this was another rough week. Nester was sick when we tried to visit him, and nobody else was home all week. Hopefully we can catch them next week. My guess is we will spend a lot of time saying goodbye to members. President Curtiss wrote me today to encourage me to help Elder Quiroz finish strong. On Sunday Elder Quiroz will head to Coban, and on Tuesday I will have my new companion. We aren't really sure what I will do Sunday - Tuesday, I might have to go to Coban. Maybe I will serve in a threesome for a couple of days, who knows. We don't know until the Saturday before transfers who is going, and then on Sunday we find out who is moving, who the new companionships will be, and where they will serve. I am hoping that I get one more change in Sepemak so I can work hard with a new companion. There's a rumor floating around that I might be finishing someones training next change, which I would love, but it is also just a rumor. So who knows haha. I probably won't be able to write very long next week because it will be kind of crazy.

We are going to play soccer tonight so that should be fun. We had burgers today at a new burger place. They don't have anything like American burgers, and they don't come with fries, so I am still missing that about home. I'm looking forward to that first Red Robin burger the day I get back! I think we might be spending the night here in El Estor. I would rather just get back, but I don't have much say. We always have to share beds. I don't like it, but I guess I am getting pretty used to it now. Oh, I forgot to say that we lost water again this week! That was a bummer. We smell bad right now. It was out two days as of yesterday. Thankfully we will shower here in El Estor tonight.

I'm looking forward to General Conference in a couple of weeks. We can get it at the church where our District Leader is, maybe even in English, so that would be awesome. I hadn't really thought about Easter; actually I didn't even know it was coming until we did Zone Conference. The people here aren't getting anything ready... so I have no clue how, or if, they celebrate.

My spiritual thought this week comes from our Zone Meeting. Hermana Curtiss said ¨this is Who we represent, the perfect Son of God." At first I thought that was super dope just for missionaries. Then I realized that even if members of the church aren't called as full-time missionaries, we do promise to take His name upon us. So in a way, we all do represent Him and we've promised to do His work! I just thought that was super cool.

I love all of you!

Love, Elder Toolson

Monday, March 14, 2016

week 28

Hey! It was awesome to be on divisions this week! It wasn't super productive because we had to stay in Secoc with our District Leader on Tuesday, and Wednesday we had to walk two hours to deliver some baptismal clothes. We stopped by Nueve Concepcion, but we didnt get to teach much. It was kind of a bummer. But it was really fun to be with Elder Helton again! We visited this family whose dad has a difficulty with the church he is attending now. They have a bunch of crazy girls, I think like five, who just giggle a lot and have a lot of energy. They are all teenagers or younger so that is probably why. I think there is a mom somewhere, but we don't see her too much. It can be hard to tell who is part of the family because a lot of people share houses here, so you never know who is who. I don't think anyone in the family reads, but we have a picture book that we use A LOT. They really like that. They live about 20 or 30 minutes away from the church. I just wish they would attend, it would be nice to baptize a family.
Here are some pictures taken while we were hiking up the mountain to deliver the clothes:

Divisions ended early Thursday morning, so I was back with Elder Quiroz. He is acting about the same, so... two more weeks! Once again, we had no investigators at church. We are going to have to go around and be a little firmer with them or something. We will see. We talked with Lydia, she isn't too sure about her baptism, and Maria is really hard to find. We haven't found any solid new investigators... so not a super successful week. We did have a really spicy caldo, so that was good! It was the one meal we had with members, we don't get fed too much. But thats ok, I'm trying to drop some weight. I've lost a lot of muscle mass so I am all flabby right now, trying to work on the building muscle thing.
I  think I am going on divisions with my District Leader this week, and we have Multi-Zone Conference on Friday, so it will be a good week. The Conference is in Senahu, about three hours of travel from here. It will be the two zones in the Polochic so I will see all my buddies. President Curtiss leads it. We won't know who is talking until we get there, I might even be called on to speak! 
For p-day today we are just chillin in El Estor. We had a standard Guatemalan breakfast of beans, eggs, and tortillas. It has grown on me, but we are going to eat lunch in a really good spot today. It is a nice restaurant called Gardanias. It has inside seating with a tv and everything. I always get tortillas de hernia, tortillas of flour. Flour tortillas are rare here so we get excited when we eat them. I order them with res inside. I mean beef! Res is beef, haha. Total cost for both meals today is about 60 qetz, which is 7 or 8 dollars. I am going to be so cheap when I get home if I think of everything in terms of qetz. I won't buy anything! Elder Quiroz and I will eat with Elders Helton, Estrada, Lanza, and Monsalve. I don't think I've told you about Lanza or Monslave, they are both nice, just never really with us that much. Elder Lanza has two or three more changes than me, and Elder Monsalve has like, two less than me maybe. We don't have anything else too exciting planned though. We just need to meet our Zone goals, but at the rate things are going... we are never going to do any cool outings.

I'm doing pretty well. Just keep plucking away, right? Next week I have eight months, so that's crazy!I am certainly more confident in my ability to do hard things now. I'm kind of in a tough spot in my mission, so it is a little hard to see the blessings. The language is always stressful, and the mountains - just the walking. But now that I think about it, they walk just as much as we do in the cities. And I would hate to be taken out of the mountains, I love the isolation. I guess mostly it is just stressful trying to meet the goals. The longer I have in the mission, the more responsible I feel. It helps that I am getting a little more comfortable in the language. Still far far from fluent, but doing good!
My spiritual thought this week is once again on the Atonement of Christ. We have been studying that a lot as a mission, and I just can't really comprehend the fullness of it to be honest. First, that Christ would be willing to suffer for the very people that were doing awful things to him, and second, that Heavenly Father let it happen...Their love for us is really something else. 
Tinkuy toj sa´ rosojik! I will endure to the end!
I love all of you, have a good week!

Love, Elder Toolson

Monday, March 7, 2016

week 27

Hey, guess who's back in Coban! I am here with Elder Helton so that is nice. Elder Helton is sick, but he says he is already feeling better so he should be good. Also, the nurse told me to come take another test, so I'm not sure what's up with that. I mean I am always sick but I think it is just regular stuff. But I pooped in my small cup. It is horrible. We go to a public clinic. There is just one old lady who works there, I think she is a doctor or something. It looks kind of ghetto. I have only been in two rooms so I don't really know what the layout of the building is like. We are always the only ones there so I think the missionaries keep her in business haha. She knows to send the results to the Mission Office so that is good. There are a group of us here from the Polochic, I saw Elder Kortsen, my old Zone Leader. We slept in Panzos last night and woke up at 2:30 to get here, and our bus leaves at 3:45. No big plans today, just visit the clinic, write and eat. That's the one good thing about Coban - we eat better. We always go to the plaza, it is a food court like in the States.

Divisions went really really well this week. Elder Vargas is brand new he can't really talk, but I was able to teach and understand and talk about everything we needed to so that was pretty awesome for me! I felt like the Lord was just putting words in my mouth the whole time. It was awesome! I feel a lot better about Kekchi, far from fluent, but knowing I can make it through a lesson helped me out a lot. I know Spanish better thank Kekchi because I talk it a lot more. I can pretty much teach and do anything in Spanish now, I just don't always get the all the right conjugations, but they always understand me at least. On the downside nobody made it to church this week so that was a bummer. I am on Divisions with Elder Helton until Thursday so we should have a pretty good week here. He will be coming to my area, I'm super excited! We usually have about three or four teaching appointments a day, but I feel like we could be doing a lot more.

Elder Helton is hitting six months left in the mission so both he and Elder Quiroz have been talking about home a lot lately, it kind of makes me baggy (homesick.) Oh, speaking of home, I got a care package from the Stake! That was like the best thing I have ever seen! It is really nice when I get support from people from the Stake or Ward, because I love it from you Mom and Dad, but you kind of have to because I am your son. Also, don't worry, I went and bought the blanket this week.

Dad asked about my exercise schedule. I have two days of exercises so I just switch off between those. Day one I get up and go run around the church, then I do 50-100-150 with laps in between those. Then I go back to the house and do curls, forearms, and forward raises. Day two I warm up, do ab ripper x, run to cool down, go back and do bench, bent over rows, push press, straight bar curl, forearms and forward raises. For the weights we have a straight bar with cement on either side and a dumbbell with cement on either side, I've got no idea how much they weigh, haha.

Mom asked what my favorite part/ most spiritual part/ most "I'm not in Washington anymore" part of my mission has been so far. My favorite part is definitely the trials. I know that is going to make Mom all emotional and thinking I'm great (he got that right) but I'm not. I just lived a good life before so this is a different world out here. I feel like I am finally getting ready for life. The most spiritual part is always when I am teaching, I just feel the Spirit so strong when I have the chance to teach, it is awesome! And this might not be the weirdest thing, but it wouldn't happen at home. The other day I was going to play one of the little mouth instruments I have. I sucked back air and a cockroach the size of my finger was inside the instrument, and I sucked it down my throat and I started dying. It was an adventure. I didn't choke or anything, I just kind of laughed and managed to hock it back out before I swallowed. It has been great having the instruments here, sometimes I play hymns when we have lessons. But it is better if we sing so the investigator can get the message of the song. We sing at least twice every lesson so that is always interesting.

One other unusual thing that happened this week is that I ate turtle. It was really good! Just like chicken, so we just cut into it. I would recommend it.

My spiritual thought this week comes from reading the October Conference talks in the Ensign. (The Ensign is a magazine published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. General Conference is held twice a year, the first weekend in October and April. Click this link to view messages from October Conference.) It isn't from one specific talk, but it is something I noticed about a lot of them, and it is about trials in our life. A lot of times we recieve a trial and it feels like the end of the world, but when we look at things with an eternal perspective, we realize that everything really will all turn out ok. I am so grateful for this knowledge I have and my understanding of eternal families!

I love all of you!
Love, Elder Toolson