Monday, August 29, 2016

week 52

Hey! So I wasn't with Elder Bos for very long last week because - surprise! We had multi-zone conference and interviews! This one was only in Polochic boundaries. It was held in our area in Senahu, so everyone made the trip to us this time. It was nice for us not to travel. President and his wife spoke, and the APs. They all talked about making sure we are being consecrated missionaries and working hard and good stuff like that. It's funny because the word "consecrated" in Kekchi is Q`axtesink, which also means to deliver, surrender, or hand over. So to me, consecrated is to surrender ourselves completely to God's will, or align our will with that of God. But that is kind of a personal definition so maybe I'm wrong haha.
My interview was really short, he just said to keep working hard and stuff like that. Everything went really well, nothing too exciting to report.
This week nobody was baptized. The family of the older lady I told you about wasn't home when we went to visit them so we will have to try again this week. We found a couple of new investigators that I have high hopes for, but they didn't come to church so I have no clue what will happen with them. I stayed in my own area all week, but I was able to work with Elder Helton some so that is always good. The recent baptisms are all doing good. They are all coming to church and are going to have callings soon.
I am writing from La Tinta today. The internet is at least a little faster than Senahu. Not doing too much today, just hanging out with the buddies as usual on Pday.
This week I have no pictures, but next week I will go on divisions with Elder Gonzalez, and after that Elder Mendoza, so I should have some good pictures coming up!
Mom asked if we have Fall in Guatemala. No. Guatemala has rain, haha. We are high enough up that it lightning storms and rains just about every night. There have been little floods, and apparently a hurricane blew close by, but we were told to stay in the house and didn't really feel it.
Dad asked about my health. My feet are good. I learned how to take out ingrown toenails by myself so no more problems there! I found these little scissors that work really well. It is awesome! I mean painful but awesome! The stomach issues are always there but nothing too bad, I am pretty used to it by now after a year. The nurse told me to take an exam as soon as I am able but I am going to wait until we have our monthly meeting in Coban, which might actually be next week but I'm not sure. I think I see her more than most of the missionaries. Every time she sees me she gives a big old sigh and says ¨how are we Elder Toolson¨ haha.

We have transfers again in two weeks. That is when Elder Helton, Tims, and Ellis go home. It is going too fast. I try not to think about it but all of my buddies are going home and such, so it makes me think about home. And then I realize that I am pretty content here. I mean obviously I have my days, but overall I am pretty dang happy to stay here.
For my spiritual thought today I am going to share my testimony about trials. What has really helped me is keeping an eternal perspective. If I am with a really tough companion, well, eventually we will have a change. If I am homesick, well, I will go home eventually. But something that the Lord said to Joseph Smith always catches my attention. He told him that we must endure our trials well. Not just endure them, but do it well! This means that we should be following the counsel in Doctrine and Covenants 4:2 where it says "see that ye serve him with all of your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day."
I hope you all have a good week and I love you!
Love, Elder Toolson

Monday, August 22, 2016

week 51

(Editor's note: we were able to talk with Joe VERY briefly this morning when he called about a problem with his bank account. Needless to say, we were scared to death when we saw an international number on caller id - Kurt was very happy to hear Joe's voice on the other end of the line and not the Mission President saying there was some sort of accident! All is well!)

Well first off it was good to hear your voice for a tiny bit today! I have some jalam-uuch' (pictures) for you:


My week went really well with Henry's marriage and baptism. 

His wife was already baptized. Some people from the Branch spoke. Thank you for sending the temple pictures. They are nice to give to the people who get married and they really like them! 

I spent a lot of the week on divisions with Elder Helton working a little bit in my area and a little in his so it was a good time! We put a fecha for this Saturday with an old lady whose husband is an inactive member of the Church. She has been coming to church and stuff so we went and visited her and we asked if she wanted to be baptized and she said ¨Us¨ which means good! So that is good! She is supposed to get baptized this Saturday so we will see how everything turns out. There are three kids living in the house so we are hoping we can get the going to church too.

Right now I am on divisions with Elder Bos so it is starting off as a good week! We are in Coban. From Tukuru it isn't as bad of a journey, and the internet here is a lot better than Senahu. I don't mind Coban so much anymore. Other than that nothing too much has changed here. Oh, something funny! Just last night we had a tarantula at Tukurus house haha! We were all screaming like 13 year old girls when it showed up on the porch, then my companion stomped on it and flicked it onto Elder Bos haha! Don't worry mom, it was dead!

Mom asked me to say five things that I am grateful for right this minute...
1. Divisions with Elder Bos
2. I got to hear your guys voice 
3. My area is progressing really well
4. I ate a meat lovers pizza for the first time in 13 months
5. I got to see Elder Andersen one last time today before he goes home tomorrow

Oh, that reminds me, you asked what day missionaries usually go home. So Elder Anderson is going to fly out tomorrow because he is going home three weeks early so he can go to BYU next week, but everyone else goes home on a Wednesday. Monday is final interviews, Tuesday is in the capital, and Wednesday you are on your way home and getting home. We just talked about it at the meeting for zone leaders, that's the only reason I know so well haha.
My spiritual thought... I'm just going to let you all know that it feels amazing to baptize somebody that you have worked hard with and come to love. Baptizing Henry was super awesome and I will not ever forget it. 

Naq xinwank sa´ jun chutam, yoo chi aatinak laj Elder Cook, ut a´an xye naq maare wankeb´ li misioneer se´ li mision a´in naq neke´xk'oxla naq maare ninruuk chi xb´aanunkil mas chaab´il sa´ li wochoch. sa´ li hoonal a´an, kixke´ qe un li qosob´tesinkil jo xmoos ut apostle li Dios, naq wi taqataaq'e li qak'anjel arin se´ li mision, li Yos tarosob´etsieb' li qajunkab'al mas chiru li tooruuq laa'o. (Translation: When I was at a broadcast, Elder Cook was talking. And he said that maybe there are missionaries in this mission that think they can do better for their family at home, than being in the mission. At that time he gave us a blessing, as a servant and Apostle of the Lord, that if we follow through in our work here in the mission, our family will be blessed by God more than we can.)

I love all of you!

Love, Elder Toolson

Monday, August 15, 2016

week 50

Hey! So unfortunately you will probably be disappointed with this letter because I am writing late, and we have a meeting soon so I don't have very much time to write. We were playing soccer all the way in La Tinta and had to make it back here for the meeting so we couldn't write there.
The zone meeting last week was awesome! We talked about grace, and working as one, and making sure that we have a spiritual experience every lesson and every time we pray. I'm including a picture with my buddy Elder Andersen, he is going home next week so I had to get my pic with him.

I was able to baptize Herylinda this week so that was awesome! She was married and then baptized right afterwards.

We are going to do the same thing with Henry this week so that will be awesome! We will keep working and exercising faith!
My spiritual thought this week comes from the zone meeting lesson about grace. Just how the grace comes not after everything that is asked of us, but after everything we are able to do. Grace makes up the difference. I love this as a missionary because we put goals, and that is what we are asked to do, and we do our best but sometimes we fall short. But we should always be trying to do more. And if we reach our goals, we can raise them.

I love you!
Love, Elder Toolson

Monday, August 8, 2016

week 49

Hey! Things this week were pretty sweet because we were able to baptize a girl named Mayra. She is 17, and is the friend of a recent convert. She lives with her uncle and apparently her parents were married in the temple but her dad ditched. I don't know what's up with her mom. Mayra can read and write and stuff, Senahu is more - I don't know, up to the times I guess you'd say? Still not even close to the states, but there is a lot more Spanish there than my other areas and there is a "college" (I put it in the little lines because its not really a college, just education for those older than high school age.) She is studying there. Also, she was Miss Senahu, so that is something!

So there is our first August baptism! We put four fechas with the Chikin Xol family, but none of them showed up to church so we will have to see what is up with that. A lady who has been investigating named Herylinda is getting married this week, and she should be baptized this Saturday so that should be good. Finally a guy named Henry will be getting married around the 20th and baptized the week after, so if everything goes perfect we might have seven baptisms this month which would be awesome! Other than that nothing too crazy. Next week we will just really focus on our fechas and making sure the marriage happens. Other than that we don't know what will happen. I have been doing a lot of divisions with Elder Helton because his area is like a five minute walk from mine and he is going home so he is super motivated to work. So that is awesome!

I am in Coban this week...again haha. But this time it is just for a meeting so don't worry, no serious sickness or anything. After we write, we will find somewhere good to eat. Then I'm actually not sure what we will do, it is kind of hard when you are in Coban without a schedule. The meeting is tomorrow. It is basically just my companion and me today. Elder Smart, my Zone Leader when I was in Canlun, and Elder Andersen, my AP for awhile, are here. But this is their area so they have things to do. My other buddies that were in Coban have gone home. Andersen is going home in 15 days and Smart in 11 weeks, so they will be gone too. I've told my buddies to come to Chelan for my homecoming. Elder Bos said he would take a road trip up there for the weekend with Elder Ellis, which would be sweet! I mean, not that I am ever going home haha, but if I do that would be cool!

Oh also if you see that I drew money out of my account, I'm sorry, I had to buy shoes this week. I bought the cheapest ones I could and they put me in a bit of money trouble, but I will try my best to budget. My old ones look the same as the last pair that wore out, just the sole comes off. The shoes I bought have been used by my companion for a bit and they hold together really well so I have higher hopes for them. I bought them for 300 qetz, but I'm pretty sure he payed like 250 or 200. He kept saying that he payed 350 for them but I don't believe it for a second. You can get nice ones in Coban, or take your chance in the market. I went with the ones from my companion because I didn't have the money to buy Coban shoes, I'm not high class enough haha. (Editors note: we are not in such dire straits that Joe can't buy shoes, not sure where this comes from, but it is a little picture of life in the mission field!)

It is really funny to watch the people here trying to figure out what is happening in the Olympics. I've only heard of one Guatemalan athlete, competing in gymnastics. There is a comedor (restaurant) we eat in pretty much daily that has a tv so we get to see a little of what's going on. Meals are different here. For breakfast I just kind of drink my protein, and then we go to a comedor that is super cheap for lunch, and then sometimes we eat dinner and sometimes we don't. But don't worry, I'm good really! I have what I need! Actually, if there was one thing you could send, it would be a pair of nicer pants. When I go to the zone meetings everyone has these nice pants that look they got them straight from H and M or something and I just have the ones I've been using in the mountains for a year haha. I had the new pair you sent for my birthday but I was wearing those when the dog bit me. They will still be fine for working in the mountains. I just need to set aside one good pair that will be just for meetings and interviews.

I'm not sure what this bug is, but it was massive. We found it while we were working out in the morning...

Sorry I haven't been doing good about pictures, I got discouraged because last week or so my memory got completely wiped and I lost all my photos since Canlun.

My spiritual thought this week is pretty much what I share every other week (I feel like I say that every email) and it is about humility. I was just studying in Alma and Helaman this week and it is pretty easy to see that the people who humbled themselves and asked for help from God always won. So we should probably do the same thing.

I love all of you and hope you have a good week!

Love, Elder Toolson

Monday, August 1, 2016

week 48 + a note

We had a pretty awesome week this week. I went on divisions with Elder Tims at the beginning of the week which was awesome. We taught some good lessons and put some fechas (set baptismal dates) for August. Also no changes for me, I'm staying the same, so not too bad! Elder Helton got moved closer to me! Transfers are getting hard. In six weeks Elders Helton, Ellis, Tims, and one of the Assistants to the President go home. My other really good buddy Elder Kortsen leaves tomorrow.

Right now I am on divisions with Elder Bos, we have gotten trapped on divisions for like four days. I was supposed to do an interview on Friday but we couldn't find the guy, so we looked for him Saturday and didn't find him until late at night. The interview was interesting, every question I asked he just kept talking about going back to Panzos haha. But he passed his interview. I have yet to fail someone. If they have the desire I normally help them out as much as I can. If they don't really understand or know something, I just explain it to them and then re-ask the questions to be sure they know what they are committing to. Anyway, after that I stayed until Sunday for church, then we talked to our companions and we just figured it would be easier to end after P-day. But Elder Bos is flippin awesome so it doesn't really matter haha. We were in his area, he is serving in Tukuru. That's where I want to go to die (end mission), it is a sweet area. The missionaries house feels like a log cabin in middle of the woods, and it is also a lot more modern and stuff so I feel like it would be nice to get used to that before I go home. But it is still in the Polochic so I'd still be where I love. We are in Coban today because it is closer to Tukuru. We will meet our companions tomorrow in La Tinta, that's about in the middle. Besides internet time, I bought some protein because I have started doing pretty good about working out! In the mornings I hit the core and a muscle group and then cardio at night. It changes everyday; one day is laps with an exercise in between each lap, sprints another day, and plyos another day. Luckily the church's basketball court is right next to our house. Even though I've lost weight from being sick, I feel fat because I've lost all my muscle.

Oh, also my bloodwork came back fine. And I got my first dog bite of the mission this week, it got me on the back of my thigh. We came up to a house and it jumped me, it was a pet I think but I'm not sure. It was mad. I was bleeding some, the village lady gave me some old dough to rub on it but Elder Tims said not to. I didn't like it very much, but I'm ok! We were pretty freaked out for a while though, everyone told me I was going to get rabies and die, but thankfully that didn't happen

Here are the answers to Mom's questions regarding the first year in the mission:
1. Elder McEntee is my closest friend without a doubt. That guy has just always been there for me and we came in around the same time so we kind of have that bond going as well, he is awesome.
2. For who has helped me the most, maybe this answer is cheating, but Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Without them I would have gone home like on July 23rd of last year. I've just felt Their help through all the answers of prayer They have given me, it is amazing.
3. The happiest part of the mission is by far standing in the baptismal font with your arms to the square with that person who you have worked so hard with and have grown to love. There is nothing like that feeling.
4. The hardest part of the mission is probably being so uncomfortable all the time, whether it is from sickness or being piled with 30 people in a bus that seats 10, you just never feel like you are very comfortable.
5. Something I have learned on my mission is that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is about the realest, most powerful thing there is. There is nothing better than it.
6. My most embarrassing memory and funniest kind of go hand in hand, it was probably my first P-day when I barely knew the language so I accidentally asked for a breast milk smoothie instead of a banana smoothie.
8. The scariest moment is probably when I was relieving myself off the porch of Tukuru house, and a certain missionary came up behind me and almost pushed me off at the last second. That was just too many emotions at once for me haha.
9. A sound that will remind me of the mission is these type of frogs that ribbit like every night when I sleep, no matter where I am.
10. The smell is probably these really bad tasting yellow berries that everyone likes here, they smell awful and everyone brings massive bags of them on the bus and you want to cry when they do.
11. A taste from the mission is something I will only taste here, and it is qem ha. I have no idea how many of those I have drank in the last year.

My spiritual thought this week comes from a dope experience I had with Elder Tims. We went to this house and this lady invited us in all happy and stuff. And we started talking about how baptism can get you clean, and she got all excited and told us about a dream she had where her and her boyfriend were stuck in mud, and then the missionaries showed up and came and got them out and helped them clean up. So that was pretty amazing!

I love all of you!

Love, Elder Toolson

Editor's note...
Several days ago, I had an experience that I don't want to forget, and I want Joe to remember it too, so I am going to include it on the blog. I was shopping with some friends when I got this text message with photos on my phone: "Hi Shannon, my name is Judy Crockett. I recently returned from a family humanitarian trip to Guatemala. While we were there we had the opportunity to have dinner with a local family and the missionaries came along. I just wanted to let you know how amazing your son is. He served as our translator for the evening and was absolutely wonderful. He loves his mission and he hopes it doesn't pass by too quickly. You must be so proud of him.

This is the family we had dinner with, your son is the one taking the picture so he's not in it but you can at least see the wonderful people in Guatemala he is sharing the gospel with. The man holding the dog is a member but his family members are not so I suspect he may visit this family again.

I wanted to take another picture of him on Sunday but we had to board the bus before Sacrament meeting ended, he was on the stand playing piano for the meeting otherwise I would have snapped another photo. He stood up when our group got up to leave and said goodbye to us in English from the pulpit. He is such a nice young man/missionary. This is where he and his companion are living now. It's right next to the church, you can see the spire in the photo. I'm not sure if he is in the yellow or blue apartment." (He lives in the yellow one.)

Needless to say, this made my day. This is the second time someone has contacted us to let us know that they met Joe and to share kind words about him. I just feel so grateful and blessed!