Monday, September 26, 2016

week 56

Hey! This week went pretty alright. We were able to put a new fecha with a little girl that the branch gave us, so I thought that was a pretty happy thing! This is a picture in front of her house, she is standing closest to me in the white.

Some members were nice enough to invite us to their little baby's one year old birthday party. The main celebration is eating caldo. They don't have cake, maybe they just don't like it, but I think it is more that they can't afford it. Serving here has made me realize how good we have it. Like we have carpet... man do I miss carpet.

There is this really nice hermana (sister, or woman at church) that leads the choir, and she invites us to dinner every Sunday. They have some money, so it is like being in the states again there with how the house and kitchen are set up and everything. It feels really weird.

The fechas we had scheduled for this week were kind of frustrating because they just didn't show up to their own baptisms. We were supposed to have three, the older lady that we have been working with forever, and then a mother and her daughter both named Paulina. They showed up to church on their own so we met them there and started visiting, they seemed really solid, so I'm not really sure what happened there. We will have to see what is up with that this week. If everything goes well we should have at least three or four baptisms for October, so that will be exciting. Also we started doing Family Home Evening with a family every Monday night because the dad is menos activo (less active, doesn't come to church regularly) and his wife wants us to visit him a lot.

I went on divisions with the new elder, Elder Zavala, he is a cool guy and we had a good time. Mom asked for my biggest adventure this week... it was probably hiking to the Mirador (a place really high and really flippin far away.) That was kind of a treat. We went two days in a row to prepare our fechas and to take Elder Bos to do interviews. These pictures are of Elder Smart and me almost at the top. 

Today we are in Coban. We got here and Elder Smart got a chest x-ray. He has been coughing a lot at night so they were worried he had a chest thing, but he is fine. Then we did our numbers for the month and turned those in. Next we ate some lunch at pizza hut, it was pretty dang good. Now we will write for like half an hour and then go get ready for our meeting. We will sleep here at the APs tonight, they have a bigger place, so that should be fun. They will be driving us back to our area tomorrow so we don't have to take the bus. They have a Frontier, it is good enough to handle the drive to the Polochic haha.

Oh also, don't send any more packages until I can tell you how. The mail system is like completely messed up apparently, and probably lost that package you mailed a month ago. So huge bummer there. There is still some hope, just not a lot from what it sounds like. Maybe it will show up like four months from now. I hope something is worked out before Christmas, but we will have to see...if not it would be a bummer but I would survive.

Thanks for the sports updates, Dad. It's good to hear some good things are happening for Manson. I can't believe Eric Weddle plays for the Baltimore Ravens now. THAT'S NOT GOOD. Now I have to stop cheering for the Chargers! I only liked the Chargers for him haha.

My spiritual experience this week comes from yesterday (Sunday.) I was pretty frustrated after the whole baptism episode with people not showing up so I kind of went to church with a bad attitude. But then after the opening prayer I looked up and saw one of our converts, I don't know if you remember Henry? He was sitting at the Sacrament table ready to bless the Sacrament for the first time! And then to top it all off he got a calling working with the young men. I just got so happy at that moment. It felt like one of the little blessings I just had to look for. Blessings are all around us if we just open our eyes.

Well, I love all of you, have a good week!

Love, Elder Toolson

Monday, September 19, 2016

week 55

Hey! First off I got to say that this week was AWESOME! Elder Smart is like the dopest guy in the world, and he works hard and knows how to have fun! It is probably exactly the thing I needed, I'm just sad it will only be for one change. We have been working really hard and getting lots of references and member help so I am really excited. He was in the Polochic his entire mission except for the three months he was in Coban, so his Kekchi is really really good. 

The girl I told you about last week is doing good, she wants to be baptized on her birthday, which is why we are waiting so long. We put two new fechas, we are going to baptize this week, so that will be awesome. Also the Rama (branch, or church congregation) came up to us with over thirty references so I would say we have our work cut out for us. I don't want to talk bad about my last companion, but it is amazing how many dinner invites and references we have received in the one week he has been gone. I also got to do divisions with Elder Bos. Yeah, basically just this week was really awesome.

(Joe and his buddy Elder Bos on divisions - pc: Elder Bos)

We got a couple new Elders in the Polochic to replace the guys who went home. One of them is in my zone, he is a really cool guy who had a scholarship to play baseball at ASU. He is having to learn Kekchi from scratch, he was actually in the MTC in Provo instead of coming to the one here in Guatemala! He seems pretty shell shocked but he is doing good. He is a fun guy and I am excited to do divisions with him this week.

My spiritual thought this week is just about how much of a difference your attitude can make. These past couple changes I was kind of in a rut just because of my situation, but ever since Elder Smart showed up the work has been progressing. I think it is because we are both happy to get out there and work!

We are just in La Tinta today, saying hi to some buddies and stuff. I'm really sorry, but this is going to be short. The internet connection isn't working today. Hopefully I can write more next week. I hope you all have a good week!

I love you guys!

Love, Elder Toolok

Monday, September 12, 2016

week 54

Hey! This week was a week of mixed emotions because a bunch of my friends are leaving which is super sad (Elder Tims and Helton are the ones in this picture.) 

But I have an awesome change! I am going to be killing Elder Smart! Wow...that sounds a lot darker when people don't understand what "killing" is in the mission haha. ("Killing" means serving with a missionary on his last transfer before going home.) He is in his last change and is from Utah. We have been buddies for a long time, we were just never really in the same area. He was my Zone Leader for a few changes but I only saw him like once or twice a month. He is coming to my area. He has been a Zone Leader for a long time, so I am sure I will learn a ton from him. I'm so excited, we always have a really good time talking at the zone leader meetings. Also, Elder Bos´new area borders mine so we will see each other a lot. So I have no complaints!

This is the first time I've had an American companion in 10 months. There are still about 40 missionaries serving in Kekchi areas, but I don't think all of those know Kekchi, they might have just been in a Kekchi speaking area at some point and never learned. They are actually bringing in two new missionaries that have never studied kekchi before so I'm excited to meet them! We were all really surprised because they are brand new, and the rumor was that all of the new Kekchi speakers would be native Spanish speakers who learned Kekchi in the MTC. But we just had a really big group Kekchi speakers leave, so maybe that changed things.

This week was just a week of saying goodbye to recent converts and members for my companion. The lessons we tried to squeeze in between that kind of all fell through, so that was a bummer. We have a little girl with a fecha (baptism date), but she is not until October so we will see what happens with that one. 

Last week I had the chance to lead a xQ´ojyin li K´omon, or noche de mormon ("mormon night.") It was kind of like a family home evening but with a lot of people. They just got together and shared their testimonies. This was the first one I have been to, but I've heard about them a lot. They just asked me if I would lead. It can be at anyone's house that wants to host it from what I understand, it can be yalaq´ b´ar (anywhere.)

I also wanted to send you a picture of my little buddy that always polishes my shoes. There are so many kids trying to do this, they just run around with the little kits and are super pushy. This little guy is awesome though, so I only have him do my shoes.

The leadership meeting went good last week. Thankfully we didn't get cincho ("the belt" - in trouble.) There wasn't a single zone that met their goal so President took the nice tactic instead of cincho haha.  He mostly spoke about constantly working and being unified.

For p-day today I am just writing and then going to La Tinta to wait for Elder Smart. He was serving as a Zone Leader in Coban. I've just been eating at that comedor, they always give us chicken and beans and eggs, that is something I don't mind eating every day. I also had an amazing waffle and a smoothie this week!

Dad, my workouts are going good. Every day at 5:00 am! I get up and go do a run, there are some hills we can do sprints up and stuff like that. Monday is chest and tricep, Tuesday is back and bicep, Wednesday is shoulders and legs, and I finish with a core workout. I just don't want to go home like the Polochik destroyed me haha. Everyone is starting to get into working out in the mission, so it is kind of fun to do it with them.

My spiritual thought this week comes from the Assistants to the President's message to us at our meeting. They talked about constant working. My AP, Elder Walker, said a quote that I really like. It can apply to literally anything we do in life, he said "you can't beat a man that never gives up." So that was really inspiring. If we never give up in missionary work, we can't lose. If we never give up in studying, in working out, in life in general, we can't lose. I just thought it was a really awesome quote. 

I love you!

Love, Elder Toolson

Monday, September 5, 2016

week 53

Chineekuy, k´a´jwi jun li jalam-uuch´ chiru li xemaan a´in (sorry, only one picture this week.

Jalam-uuch´comes more naturally to me than saying picture now haha. I dream in my mission languages, Kekchi a lot more than Spanish. I still have trouble communicating, but I can always get my main point across so that is kind of nice. My accent is really bad, and my vocabulary isn't very big, but the nice thing about Kekchi is you can get your point across without a big vocabulary. This is a family who I did a baptismal interview for. They live in Seamay, Elder Helton's area. I was able to go to the baptism on Saturday, it was for the boy in the middle. They have two mute people in the family and it was really cool to meet them. You could just kind of feel a good spirit in their house when you are there.

This week was pretty good. Divisions with Elder Gonzalez went well, but the other divisions kind of fell through. We only were able to talk to the older lady once. This time her husband was there and he kind of seems like a handful so we will see how things go with him. He just keeps putting off her baptismal date and saying we need to go slower, even though she wanted to be baptized like a month ago. He is a member but has not been active for junxil (a long time.) They've showed up to church a few times though. We work with that family a lot because they are kind of the only thing we have going for us right now. 

We are just in Coban today, I have been up since 6:30 yesterday. We had to be ready to go by midnight so I didn't see much point in going to bed. We have that leader meeting tonight at six, but besides eating and emailing, that's about it. We will probably get cincho because our zone did terrible. Cincho is like getting scolded, they call it cincho because I think that is belt in Spanish, so it is like getting the belt haha. My companion and I had some good experiences and baptisms, but since we are ZL´s if our zone does bad it is our fault too, and our zone did worse than they have in a long time. We will have to go over it when we give our zone meeting this Thursday. I really want us to meet the goal! We are supposed to get a certain number of lessons and new contacts and stuff like that each week. We always focus on baptisms, but this time I also want have a goal to communicate with every area better. The main challenge in our zone is laziness We all need to do better at planning, my companion and me included. 

This will be the last week  before changes, so that means a lot of my buddies are going home. Which is awesome for them but kind of a bummer for us. I will get to do divisions with Elder Helton at the end of this week so that will be nice to say goodbye a little bit. Next week I will have big news about changes so that will be good. We are all ready for changes I think. Two people are going home, one guy has five changes in his area, and the Mission President already knows there are some companionship problems.  I am like 95% sure I will stay in my area. If I stay a zone leader this is where we are always stationed. Also, they are going to have to close some areas because there are a lot of Kekchi speakers leaving and only like 1 or 2 coming in, if that. New Kekchi speakers can only come in ever two changes the way the program works.

After this week I will be one of the senior Kekchi speakers, which is weird because I still feel brand new. I have plenty of weaknesses. It has been kind of tough lately, just trying to be a good leader, my buddies going home... just a stressful time in the mission. I know mom would remind me to focus on the good stuff. Five things I am thankful for right now: 
1. Reading and sending emails today
2. Sausage McGriddle for breakfast at McDonald's this morning
3. I will see Elder Smart today
4. I have done good about working out this last month
5. The gift of tongues, and how it has helped me learn the languages here

I took my poop test today like the nurse wanted. I don't mean to brag, but my aim is becoming remarkably good at pooping into those cups. I think I just have too much practice haha. 

Well, for my spiritual thought, I just think it is great how the gospel will not only be preached in every part of the world, but in the peoples own language as well! Look at this mission for example, I was called to speak Spanish, but I only use that with my companions. Kekchi is the language here so that is what we teach in, which is awesome! I have seen many people whose lives have been changed by the gospel. One person is that guy Henry that got married, and another is that girl Mayra from a few weeks ago. Every time I visit them they just seem that much happier. They are both going to church every Sunday and getting ready to receive callings. Mayra is the only member in her family and she always talks about how she is trying hard to be a good example for everyone so her family can see the change in her since her baptism, also yesterday she got up and bore her testimony in sacrament meeting after only being a member for a month! Pretty awesome if you ask me. I know that missionary work is the most important work we can do on this earth, because it is the Lord's work. We are bringing people unto him, what can be better than that? 

I love all of you!

Love, Elder Toolson