Monday, July 25, 2016

week 47: xink'e in chihab'

Hey! Xink´e in chihab´! Mas junpaat naxik inhoonal!  (I already did a year! My time is going fast!) We had a little party and I did the shirt burning thing.

It is kind of a bad thing because I'm actually starting to enjoy the mission.  The first year was really flipping hard - the language and mountains and not knowing enough about the gospel and being away from home. Just all your normal missionary stuff I guess. But now that I'm getting the hang of it, it is a lot of fun! I just get a little homesick sometimes, but nothing too bad, nothing like the beginning!

So this week was just a crazy week of divisions! I went with Semaraaq on Tuesday and Wednesday, then Wednesday night I had to go to Seritkiche. I was there all day Thursday, and Friday I had to go back to Semaraq to do an interview, so that was a treat. LOTS of travel! But it was good to get to know the other areas. This little girl is a girl I did a baptismal interview for. 

Looks like we have two or three good possibilities coming up for baptism, I just have been out of my area so much I have yet to meet them! 

I am in Coban today, just finally did my blood test. I only got punctured three times today. I'm not sure what will happen if my b12 is still low but we will see. I haven't had any more fevers. I feel pretty ok, I mean I still have parasites but that's starting to be a normal thing. I can work and that is what is important. My meds are all gotten and stuff. We left at 12:30 this morning and got here around 6:15ish, it takes about 6 hours from my area. I was kind of in and out of sleep the whole time. I mean...they fit four people on one bus seat meant for I only sleep if I'm really tired haha. The worst is when there are no seats and you have to do the whole thing standing up. I've also had to ride on top of a bus quite a few times. Keeps things exciting. The best is hanging out of the doorway. Actually your arms get tired, but it is fun! When I am done with my tests we will go to the plaza and maybe eat subway. It is like the ones at home but it doesn't taste as good. It is weird, any American restaurants they have here just don't taste as good for some reason. Big news, our new Mission President says we can drink coke! YEESSS! Unfortunately I'm trying to leave soda behind, he isn't making it easier.  Although the acid in the Coke might help kill the parasite haha.

Mom asked for a scripture that has helped me on my mission...
Laa'in ninnaw naq chi moko li kamk malaj li yu'am, chi moko eb' li anjel malaj li neke'awab'ejink sa' choxa, chi moko li k'a' re ru wank anaqwan malaj li toj chaalel, chi moko li wankeb' xwankil.
Jo'wi' li wankeb' taqe'eq ut taq'a, tik maak'a' naru taa jachoq qe rik'in li xrahom li yos li wank rik'in li Kristo Jesus, li Qaawa' ("For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." - Romans 8:38-39I figure this is a pretty good spiritual thought because it sums up an important thing I've learned in my mission. This scripture is talking about how literally nothing will separate us from God's love which is in Jesus Christ. I don't have much to say other than I promise that it is true, I have seen it in my life and many others as well. 

I'm thankful for all of you and love you all!

Love, Elder Toolson

Monday, July 18, 2016

week 46

Hey! We baptized this week! It was pretty dang awesome. I did two and my companion did two. The guys I baptized were Elder and Pedro. All of them had members of their families show up to support them, so it was nice.

I did some divisions in Chijolom and Semerac, and then Elder Bos was here at the end of the week to do more divisions. Basically I feel like the entire zone is my companion instead of just Elder Vindel. It's great! We just got two really solid references! Other than the baptisms and that nothing too crazy to report, just a normal week. 

Oh, the Zone Conference was good! We talked a lot about personal conversion and doing the branch mission plan and stuff like that. We were taught by the Mission President, President's wife, and Assistants to the President. They did this really awesome analogy using Deuteronomy 1:2 "(There are eleven days' journey from Horeb by the way of mount Seir unto Kadeshbarnea.)" They talked about how the journey is only eleven days, but the people Moses brought wandered for forty years due to pride and disobedience. Then they asked us how long we are going to take to be personally converted.

President Faundez was in my area a little bit this week as well so we talked to him a few times. I still have a really good feeling about him, but I don't know how he feels about me, haha. The two times he saw me he kind of caught me at a bad time. One time we had just walked so we were resting on the side of the road, and he drove by and we looked like bums. The other time I didn't have my tie on... he showed up at like 7:55 in the morning and we were right about to start looking like missionaries, he just caught us at a bad time I guess.

My health is pretty alright! It just kind of varies from day to day but not too bad. It is always exciting waking up and seeing how I will feel haha, I keep forgetting to buy my medicines, but I will get on those!

We are in Senahu today, my letter is going to kind of short because the internet here is terrible because we are right smack dab in middle of the mountains.

This week I'm going to go to Semerac with my old District Leader, Elder Gonzalez, and after that with my father (trainer) Elder Helton in Seritkiche. So it should be a good week! I love this area; I want to spend the rest of my mission and die (finish) here because it is awesome. The nice thing right now is I get to do divisions with all of the mountain areas almost whenever I want. If I wasn't here I'd want to be assigned to one of the really remote mountain areas. I just don't want to get taken out of the Polochic.

I'll be hitting my year mark plus lots of divisions, so I will have more to report next week. Pretty crazy that on Thursday it will be a year since I've seen you guys! I still don't feel like I know the languages well enough. I need to start reading the Book of Mormon in Spanish more. Spanish Book of Mormon is hard because it's in vosotros form and nobody uses that ever! That makes it very confusing.

My spiritual thought this week is on how well the Lord will prepare people for us. This kid we baptized named Elder, we were able to teach him in like a week and a half. He was totally ready! It was awesome! 

Well, I hope everyone has a good week, and I love all of you!

Love, Elder Toolson

Monday, July 11, 2016

week 45

Aye! This week was SWEET. Well, the truth is the beginning was pretty terrible, turns out those parasites I had like 9 weeks ago or whatever never went away! Apparently they have been plotting and biding there time and hit me hard Monday night, so divisions with Elder Bos was good because he is my buddy, but we couldn't do much because my stomach was fighting itself.  I will start taking medicine for that again this week...yayyy....

My homie Elder Bos, he is a guy I will definitely go out of my way to see after the mission

After that I had divisions in Chijolom with Elder Tims to do a baptism interview. We ended up leaving Senahu two hours late, then the guy lied to us and dropped us off an hour and a half away from where he told us. Chijolom works two areas, Chijolom and Sesoch, and the interview was in Sesoch, but the house is in Chijolom. So we did some mountain walking in the rain. I got four out of five interviews done but one guy never showed up, so we had to decide if we were going to sleep in with some members because it was already pitch black, or if we were going to go out in the storm and walk two hours to the house. We then remembered that we were in charge of getting the truck for everyone to bajar (go down) and meet the new President the next morning. So we had to go walking in the pitch dark and rain, it was an adventure! Luckily we had our nokia phone that had a light on it and thankfully Elder Tims had walked the path one or two times before that.

The next morning we got up at 4:30 to go down and meet the new President. President Faundez is a pretty good guy. His accent is super hard to understand. He is going to learn English. He has told the whole mission they are required to know Spanish, Kekchi, and English. It will take a while for us to get used to him but right away I can tell he is called of God to lead this mission. And we made it through our lesson! It helped that President was doing interviews the whole time so there was like zero pressure. My interview with him lasted like a minute and a half.

Now the best news! We have four baptisms Saturday! They just kind of popped up on Sunday, so we will baptize Elder, and three other guys I don't know too well. One is 9, one is 13, and the other is 18, so that will be awesome! Right now we also have one or two baptisms scheduled in August. We don't find the new investigators, the Lord does it for us. The members help a lot here as well. Senahu is weird because we never are in our area but we always seem to have baptisms. We have a week full of divisions again so that should be fun! This week I will stay in our area and Elder Vindel will travel. I couldn't before because I didn't know the area well enough to work in it, but now I know where some people are. It is great being able to travel all over and see different places though too!

Senehu is pretty sweet. This is the place to visit if you are going to come here. Its not dangerous where I serve at all, the only thing that ever happens is you might have a super drunk guy harass you but that's nothing. I'm including pictures of our house, it is the nicest place I have lived by far.

I am in Coban right now for my first big meeting where we get all the ZLs together, so that will be tomorrow. 

Elder Vindel and Elder Toolson

I feel like I write this every other week for my spiritual thought but I'm going to write it again. The Lord may test us, but will always help us when we need it. Before we left that night to go back to Chijolom in the pitch black and the storm I knew I was going to need some help, so I said a prayer in my head that the lord would help us get there safely and we would have the energy to do it. And that's exactly what He did! I love our heavenly Father! And I love you guys! Have a good week!

Love, Elder Toolson

Monday, July 4, 2016

week 44

Happy Fourth! So first I will just say today was awesome, all of my buddies got together and we played a nice game of fourth of July basketball! We ate bacon wrapped hotdogs and burgers too!

Things this week were good! I have been sick, but not too sick, so we can still work, parasites and a cold thing. The nurse wants me to go take another blood test again so we will see how that goes. Two months ago she said that I probably should do it in two months, so the time has arrived. I have to go back because Dangue destroyed my blood count and business. Dengue can be horrible, but with the Lord helping me out it isn't too bad. Without Him I'd be dead haha. I am not a fan of blood or Coban tests, but I have been really exhausted these last like three weeks so I am a little worried. I probably just need to take my vitamins again though. Where I am now there are a lot more mountains, which is what I love, but it is tiring too.

Yesterday we taught this kid named Elder and he already said he wants to be baptized so that will be awesome! He is about 15, he has been singing in the choir for a while but never was baptized. We are also working with this family that lives like an hour STRAIGHT UP the mountain, so walking there is death. But they are progressing so we go up there like three times a week, which is fun. There are four people who are old enough to be baptized, two other little kids, and an inactive father. They came to church last Sunday despite having to walk an hour each way! The only bad part is their dog, it is pretty dang aggressive, so we just have to wait till the family calms it down before we can get close.

I went on divisions with Elder Hayes this week, we had a good time! Just contacted a lot. We have one solid investigator and three unsolid. Our three didn't show up to church so that is kind of a bummer. Oh, they found out I can play piano in the other rama, so I have to play for the two ramas every Sunday now.  Also, I played at a two hour funeral that was yesterday. It was kind of sad, it was for one of the first members baptized in Senahu so it was kind of a big deal.

Things are going good with my companion. He is a good guy! We work well together so no problems or complaints there! I feel like we are out of our area at least two days every week, but maybe we have just been especially busy. We mostly speak Spanish but if something is easier to say in Kekchi we say it in Kekchi. I mostly use Kekchi for gospel related stuff and Spanish for other stuff, but I'm starting to talk Kekchi better than Spanish which isn't good at all. And don't worry, I still don't really know either of them haha. Being a zone leader is ok, but I miss just being a regular missionary. We don't get to work with the people as much now. Me and my companion are going to give a class for our Zone meeting when the new President comes so that is scary. Our class is going to be about how to challenge people to baptism and put fechas (baptismal dates), so that will be interesting. I will meet the new President this Friday so no news on how he is yet. I am pretty nervous. 

We got to watch a man making candles this week, he does it all by hand. I am sending some pictures.

Also ran into this little guy. It is super common for the kids to work really hard here, sometimes the dads get sick so they send the little kids out to collect wood for cooking. In my last area there was a 7 year old that basically ran the family. It's weird, they always have a smile on their face, even when there is no reason to smile.

We stopped by with that family from St. George, the Hamms. They gave us some pizza one day and a bunch of candy from the states and popcorn. They are awesome!

This week is divisions with Elder Bos so I am super excited for that! Other than that nothing too special, I'm glad you had a good week and little Eli could be blessed! 

My spiritual thought this week is on the fact that the Lord really knows what we can handle. When I did divisions with Elder Hayes, nobody would let us in. NOBODY. I have never dealt with that in my mission before. People always let us in and give us their qem ha (dough water) and at least listen to us, but nobody would there. My respect for missionaries all over the world went up so much. I think the Lord called me here because he knows I can maybe handle the physical challenges alright, but the mental challenge of being rejected discouraged me more than I thought it would. The Lord knows that and that is why I am here. I really lucked out with my call. At the end of my mission all that will be left of gringos in the Polochic that didn't previously know Spanish is me, one other guy in my group, and then a guy after me. Only fluent Spanish speakers are called to Kekchi areas now. I love the Polochic.

Well, I hope you all have an awesome 4th, love you!

Love, Elder Toolson

(Editor's note: Gordon Hamm, who gave Joe the American food, called us this morning! They just returned from their time in Guatemala. He said Joe looked really good and seemed very upbeat. He also said that Joe is a great Kekchi speaker, and if he says he isn't, he is just being humble! It was so awesome to hear from someone who had just been with Joe, and to hear his description of the area Joe is serving in. He invited us to join a page that he has on fb for people who are interested in serving the people of the Polochic, and I found a photo there of the beautiful town Joe is serving in now. I am posting it for you all to see - the photographer who originally posted it is Angel Leonel Caal Poo`u. I didn't think many places could be more beautiful than Chelan, but Senahu has it beat! The tiny villages in the surrounding mountains don't even have a grocery store, so the people - and missionaries - travel down to Senahu to buy what they need.)