Monday, May 30, 2016

week 39: b'annu li us!

Hey! It was a good week this week! We are in El Estor, just decided to come here for something more exciting. I got to see my buddy Elder Helton so I can't complain too much! We will probably just eat at that good restaurant that we used to always eat at when I was here, other than that I don't think we have any big plans.

Unfortunately we were not able to get Marta's confirmation done, so we will have to make sure we do that this week or we will have to rebaptize her! This week was District Conference here in the valley so I was able to see President and Hermana Curtiss which is always nice. We have a multi-zone conference in the middle of June when we will get to see them again, but I think that will be the last time. Speakers for District Conference were the Temple President and his wife, President and Hermana Curtiss, and then some of the leaders from various branches. It was actually kind of hard to follow because we were trying to organize our members and investigators and stuff. Everyone had their own topic so there wasn't really a theme. Two of our investigators showed up, one guy named Franklin who is about 11, and Elvira who still needs to do that whole marriage thing, so that was a plus! Franklin can be baptized anytime we are just waiting for his dad to get back from the capital so we can have permission. Besides Franklin and Elvira we have been working with another guy named Felipe. He talks a lot and says he is praying and stuff, we will see what happens there. It seems like our appointments are always pretty far away from each other so we get some good walking in. Other than that nothing too exciting to report! Here are some pictures of the family we recently baptized and their neighbors.

The only bummer is I got pretty sick again this last week, I think it is more parasite related.  I am doing better now and we were able to work and stuff so no problems there! I still need to find that parasite medicine. When Hermana Curtiss heard I was sick, and then heard I still didn't have my medicine, she wasn't very happy. Otherwise I am alright. I think I am kind of in that little midway slump of my mission, I am right before I have my year and I kind of feel like I have been here forever. Once I am over the year hump I think I will feel a lot better.  Also all my buddies in the mission are starting to go home so that is kind of a bummer. And when all my buddies go home it kind of makes me feel like I am never going home haha. When I was in the mountains I didn't really mind, just I am not a huge fan of the valley. It's probably my fault I'm not having as good of a time, I need to change my attitude a little bit. Here are some photos of my area.

It sounds like State Track went about as it normally does, a couple good things and a couple bad things. I laughed out loud when I read your "Dumb and Dumber" story. Thanks for the pictures of Eli! I can already see him as a future linebacker haha.

My spiritual thought comes from something President Curtiss had to say this week in the District Conference, ¨b´annu li us!¨ which literally translates to ¨Do the Good!¨ I thought that was pretty sweet because it is pretty dang simple. It doesn't have to be that difficult! Just do the good! That makes you happier, all the people around you happier, and Heavenly Father happier! Maybe not my most profound spiritual thought, but I really like how simply President Curtiss put it. 

Well, I hope you all have an awesome week! I love all of you!

Love, Elder Toolson

Monday, May 23, 2016

week 38

What the heck! That is awesome! I got a nephew for a birthday buddy! Thanks so much for the pictures they are awesome!

So this week was pretty good, we got the marriages and baptisms done. We weren't able to get Marta confirmed on Sunday, so we will have to do it another time. There were so many people there for the marriage part! It was so hot.


We have a lot of kids that say they want to be baptized now but none of them show up to church. We are going to visit them this week. We also have another potential marriage coming up that we might see one baptism out of, so that will be good.

It has been hot here. It has rained a couple times, so that is nice, but also not so nice because normally when it rains we lose power haha. And sleeping is like impossible without fans. But it is nice when it rains during the day!

We've started writing our p-day emails in Panzos now, it has the fastest internet I have used in my whole mission, so that is pretty awesome. Panzos is my District Leader Elder Ellis' area. It is about an hour travel time from my area in total, we go by bus. There are actually less stores than in La Tinta, so we went there earlier to buy food and take out money on our bank cards. Crazy thing! I ran into my old buddy Lucas from Santo Domingo there! He is doing good, getting ready for his mission, but having a hard time finding work. This is actually one of the most relaxed p-days I will do. We just woke up, went to La Tinta, we will write and probably go back to our area. Our district is here together, so me, my companion, and Elders Vargas, Ellis, Ayala, and McEntee.
The next changes are around June 20th, so another month or so. That is when the new Mission President will come to the area. I am going to miss President Curtiss. I think the other guy is from Chile. I am a little nervous because I heard he doesn't know English, which makes it a little harder to relate with him. I heard he was going to take a pretty intensive class though, so maybe he is learning. I'm sure it will be great with him too, just different!

On my birthday we had a party, and since it was the night before p-day I was able to see some of my buddies so that was awesome! Elder Gonzalez cooked mexican style for me so that was good.

Other than that I don't have anything to report on, I'm just really excited about little Eli being born!

Oh! And I forgot to say I have parasites again. I still need to buy the medicine and then I will start taking it. And something else exciting did happen! This guy from our Branch took out all four of my ingrown toenails on Saturday! They would come and go on and off, but they were starting to be pretty bad. He saw I was bleeding through my sock, so he told me to take it off. Then he ran off and got this special nail clipper. He got his brothers and told me they were going to take care of things and I started panicking and told them maybe another time, but they just laughed and grabbed my leg and held it down and went at the toenails. It hurt like a mother but it happened! I hope the clippers were clean... I didn't really think about that part. But I feel better right now so it should be good! A lot less pain when I walk, and it will only get better.

My spiritual thought this week comes from the fact that God does provide if we are diligent and do our part. When I arrived at Canlun we had nothing, but through Heavenly Father's blessings we were able to have two baptisms this week! I love all of you!

Love, Elder Toolson

Monday, May 16, 2016

week 37

Hey! I am writing from Coban again, but awesome day because I came down here with my best buddy Elder McEntee. We are sharing in our suffering of parasites haha. So I pooped in a cup again today, it was pretty successful thankfully.

We had transfers last week! I completely forgot to tell you, our district is basically the same except Elder McEntee is here in place of Elder Bos, nothing else really changed.

I don't have a lot of pictures this week, but I am really excited about what I am sending because we found some mountains! It felt so good to be back!

I did divisions with Elder Ellis this week, he helped me take out the marriage papers on Friday so that went pretty well. (Elder Ellis is the one I took some pictues with in Semuc when we were standing in the water, he was in the black shirt.) It looks like we will see two marriages and two baptisms this Friday, so we are really excited about that. The first is Edgar, who I told you about last week. The second couple are named Santiago and Marta, Marta is the baptism. People have been working with them for awhile, they just never quite wanted to go to Panzos to take out the marriage papers so it was impossible for them to progress. Santiago is already a member, just super inactive, he baptized junxil (a really long time ago) and then went inactive right after, so something tells me he doesn't know what his baptismal covenant meant. We are trying to work with him to help him relearn, the problem is he is always sick so it is hard to get him to church and stuff. Nobody here can afford to go to the doctors so they just try to treat themselves and it doesn't always work that great for them. But it is super awesome to see people taking this big step in their lives to complete Gods commandments for us. I am excited to finally see some baptisms, it has been since I baptized in that river in Seranx. It is just great to see people finally accepting the Gospel. 

My companion is doing alright I think. After we did divisions he kind of came back really confident, because he knew a lot more Kekchi than the guy he was with. I think that is the first time that has happened, it was good for him. We taught like twenty lessons in total this week. That is pretty average, it was a little hard with divisions, but we did alright. We tried to visit with the man who asked for the prayer for his dad. We found out they are pretty hardcore Catholics. That is the confusing thing here, everyone recognizes we have power from God and can bless them, and they will say our church is true, but they won't join us.

I guess I must be feeling really strongly about obedience lately because I have a similar thought to what I shared last week. It is the same thing that everyone has heard in church or school assembly, that we need to make the decision now to do what we are supposed to do. We shouldn't have to decide every time we are faced with a choice, because we should have already decided that we will do the right thing. I don't know how many Aaronic Priesthood holders read this, or Melchizedek for that matter, but we have a pretty sweet power and responsibility to bless in the Lord's name, we need to be worthy and ready to use it at any moment.

I love all of you! Have a good week!

Love, Elder Toolson

Monday, May 9, 2016

Mother's Day call and week 36

We enjoyed our chance to talk with Elder Toolson on the phone Saturday afternoon. He sounded pretty good, despite being sick. I know all of you have been concerned about his health. He said that the results from the blood work showed that he is low in vitamin B12, so he is supposed to take vitamins and then have his blood retested in two weeks. We still aren't sure about the other mystery test, the one only available in the States. But the nurse told him they aren't going to worry about that. He also said that he found out he did not have Chikungunya, but had Dengue instead. Which didn't really make us feel better... luckily he is young and strong!
He said things are going good with his companion. As much as he misses the mountains, he feels pretty confident that he will be staying in the valley for three - four months. The previous Elders who were assigned to his area stayed for four or five changes (each change lasts six weeks.) He also expressed sadness that his Mission President would be going home on June 30th. (Mission Presidents serve for three years, and President Curtiss had already been in Coban for two years when Joe arrived.) The Coban Mission is only three years old; President Curtiss is the first Mission President to serve there.
It was particularly fun listening to him speak Kekchi. Every so often you can pick out a Spanish word, but mostly it is unrecognizable. Joe explained that because it is an ancient Mayan language, they don't have words for a lot of things we use now. If they don't have a word in Kekchi, they will adopt a Spanish word and take off the last syllable. The scriptures, hymnal and most of the lesson materials have been translated into Kekchi, which is really cool!
He shared one interesting story with us: "Me and my companion were walking through an area to an appointment. This drunk guy came up to us and said 'Hey, my dad is really old and really sick, can you come pray for him?' He was switching between Kekchi and Spanish, and was super hard to understand. I looked at my companion and said that maybe we could give him a blessing or something, so we followed the drunk guy. When we got to his house there was this big commotion, like there was a party or something going on. As we followed the guy inside, we saw like thirty people crying and yelling and moaning. If you remember the scene in The Other Side of Heaven when that lady dies, that is exactly what it was like! My companion was just like 'nope, nope' and was shaking his head back and forth at me. The drunk guy had left us for a minute, and suddenly he sprints towards us crying and yelling 'He died! He died! He went! He went!' I didn't know what to say to him, so I just kind of said something like 'He may be dead, but he found his resting place' and the drunk guy said 'Can you still pray for him?' My companion just kind of looked at me and I said sure. We followed him into the other room and you could see that the dad wasn't dead yet, you could hear his breathing from across the room, and see his chest moving. He was really old, you could tell he was like 92 or something. We said a prayer for him and for the family, asking for everyone to be comforted, then we had to go to our appointment. The son asked us to pass by another day, so we are going to try to visit them in the coming weeks." Elder Toolson is definitely in a different world! Today's letter...
Hey! Not a whole lot of time to write this week because we just got back from Samuc Champay so I will try to get some pics out. We left really flipping early and it was five hours in a bus so I am pretty tired. That made it kind of hard to enjoy, but it was still really fun. The best part was just seeing everyone. The red shirt is Elder Helton, the dark shirt is Elder Ellis, and the white is Elder Gonsalez.

This week will be exciting because we are going to go to the government building to try and get some marriage papers out for our fecha Edgar. We are still just working a lot on getting that wedding going because we don't really have any other solid investigators. Last week nothing too crazy happened. Well, there was this naked lady bathing in the river when we walked by and she asked me if I could join her. I said not right now, but maybe we can stop by sometime and talk about the Gospel of Jesus Christ with her. That was a little uncomfortable haha.
I might be going to Coban again on Monday but I still don't know. I haven't found the vitamins yet. Hopefully tomorrow! I was pretty busy today so I didn't really have time to look for them. Now that I am in the valley, there is kind of this big square where most of the houses are and a little store. The store just kind of sells drinks and food, nothing too nice, mostly just snacks you can buy like chips and stuff. They don't have vitamins. I am in La Tinta again right now and the stores might have them, but they are closing. The internet place stays open later than the other stores. I need to get back to my area tonight. It takes about thirty minutes to get home now, compared to two hours when I was up in the mountains. We hitch a ride on a truck, then we take a little canoe, and then we walk a little ways. And don't worry about the canoe mom, we aren't breaking any rules (editor's note: missionaries aren't normally allowed to travel on water) because there's no other way! And it is like a one minute trip.
Oh I almost forgot to tell you! Elder Bos is getting transferred which is a huge bummer. He is going to a mountain area, but he isn't even in my zone anymore. He is up in Elder Reeds district. There are two districts in the mountains, one in Senahu, and one in Chulak, and then two districts in the valley. So four districts, and two zones in the Polochic. But Elder McEntee is coming to take his place, so he will be in my district again!
My spiritual thought this week comes on obedience. I was reading in Preach My Gospel, the chapter about the attributes of Christ, and every single attribute has something to do with obedience. So I am pretty sure it is pretty dang important haha. Well, I love all of you!
Love, Elder Toolson

Monday, May 2, 2016

week 35

Aye! I'm in Coban again! I had to poop in a cup, and I was supposed to give blood, but the test I'm supposed to do they only have back home in the states so I have no idea what's going to happen with that! I'm not sure what I am supposed to do, if they do the test here and send it to the states, or I just don't do it. I think they are just checking to be safe. I actually saw Ellie again because she was doing a parasite test as well haha. I feel ok, just tired, I have been sleeping really bad this last week so it might be due to that. I don't know what my problem is, I just start thinking and my mind keeps going and then it's like two before I know it. We ate some McDonalds here in Coban, but my stomache has been poop this week so it was kind of hard to enjoy it. Sorry I feel like I am just being a downer.

We have a fecha (baptism date)! And a marriage! It is set for May 21st, so I am really excited about that! We could potentially have like a triple or quadruple wedding and that many baptisms. That is not looking too likely, but we will keep praying! We had about twenty appointments this week, maybe a little more, so that isn't too bad. The baptism on the 21st is this guy named Edgar. His mukuy is already a member so we won't need to baptize her. We will help them by taking them to the place where they have to take out all of the papers to be married, and maybe help them pay. This is a picture of the night that we committed Edgar to baptism and marriage:

During teaching we try to emphasize that the goal isn't baptism, but temple marriage and being sealed together as a family for eternity. As for members endowed (those who have been to the temple) there aren't too many. It is like a 10 hour journey to the temple, and the people are really poor.
Things are going okay with my new companion. He has been a lot better the last few days, he was just really serious before, but we have been joking around a lot more so it is going better. I think just his parents and one or two siblings are members of the Church. He worked a lot and lived alone from the time he was 14 to now, so he didn't have a chance to do a lot of studies. I think he is planning on studying after the mission.

The thing about Canlun, it is really hot, and really flat.

When I am studying and I have my fan on, I am still sweating buckets. Other than that everything is pretty good! There is really good member here, he jokes around with us and stuff. They eat a whole lot of qem ha´, which is water with a lump of dough in it. I don't enjoy it much, but we can buy food every p-day. Everyone is nice enough here, there are so many drunk people in our area though. Everyone wants money. I just talk to them and walk circles around them until they get too dizzy to talk to me. Elder Ellis taught it to me, it works so far! They leave us alone for the most part, it just is annoying when they don't.

My spiritual thought this week comes from my reading in Alma, when Captain Moroni was leading the Nephites. It is about their faith; they knew that the Lord would deliver them, and that really is amazing! I mean they were facing down an army, but they KNEW the Lord would deliver them! Alma 58:10-12 "Therefore we did pour out our souls in prayer to God, that he would strengthen us and deliver us out of the hands of our enemies, yea, and also give us strength that we might retain our cities, and our lands, and our possessions, for the support of our people. Yea, and it came to pass that the Lord our God did visit us with assurances that he would deliver us; yea, insomuch that he did speak peace to our souls, and did grant unto us great faith, and did cause us that we should hope for our deliverance in him. And we did take courage with our small force which we had received, and were fixed with a determination to conquer our enemies, and to maintain our lands, and our possessions, and our wives, and our children, and the cause of our liberty." I wish I had that kind of faith.

I think I will be able to make my Mother's Day call Saturday like at 5:00 our time? I am super hyped for that! I love all of you!

Love, Elder Toolson