Monday, October 31, 2016

week 61

This email will be kind of weak because I don't know how much time I have to write. This week went ok, we found a nice family, and put two more fechas with some kids, but they didn't come to church...and neither did anyone that was really a bummer. We worked really hard but not very many people want anything right now. It is weird because Senahu is usually known for success. I was kind of emotionally exhausted by it all.  None of the zones in the mission can consistently meet the goals, even after we have lowered them. None of us really know what is going on. Hopefully President will have some advice for us.

Other than that things are good, I'm still pretty sick but it hasnt kept us from working, so nothing too bad there.

I had the chance to do a good service project this week. I carried this lady's wood for her, it was really heavy. Here's a picture of it. 

Kids here make toys out of anything, like kites out of garbage bag wrappers. We met these people as we were walking so we sat down and tried to teach them. The kids were standing on the fence trying to fly their kites.

We also got to go to a ward baptism, so that was great.

Elder Nelson is nice, and his Kekchi is as good as everyone says haha. He plays soccer and he sings really well. He is 20, so a year older than me. I think this will be a humbling change for me because he is kind of one of those guys that is really good at everything he does, and he is also really humble about it. He is a good guy.

(editor's note: this little guy is wearing Elder Bos' name tag! Maybe he snapped the photo?)

My spiritual thought this week comes from something I will actually be giving a talk on in consilio here in about three hours. I am pretty nervous, I am supposed to take fifteeen minutes and I have to talk in Spanish instead of Kekchi so I'm afraid it won't go that well. My talk is about hope. Hope is one of the divine attributes of Christ, and I never paid much attention to it until I was given it as a topic to study. Moroni 7:40-42 is really good: "And again, my beloved brethren, I would speak unto you concerning hope. How is it that ye can attain unto faith, save ye shall have hope? And what is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of His resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise. Wherefore, if a man have faith he must needs have hope; for without faith there cannot be any hope." Now I realize how important it really is. If we have no hope that God will complete His part of the covenants He makes with us, then there is no point to us doing anything. Without hope, we would think that death was the end. But we know and have the hope that we can be a eternal family and be with God forever, which I think is pretty awesome. 

I love you!

Love, Elder Toolson

Monday, October 24, 2016

week 60

Hey! So changes happened! It was pretty hard to say bye to Elder Smart, I would be lying if I said no tears were shed haha. 

Looks like Elder Nelson is going to come be my companion, which is pretty funny because he is my brother in the mission (Elder Helton trained both of us.) I have one or two more changes than him. He is from Canada, and is a really good missionary. He came in the mission speaking Spanish and English, and I hear that he knows really, really good Kekchi, he learned in the MTC. So it should be a good change or two with him! He will get here tomorrow if I remember right. Sadly like all of my close friends from the old days got sent out of the Polochic so that was a bummer. They are getting sent to Peten. There are a lot of new Kekchi speakers coming, like five new ones I think. Thankfully Elder Bos is still in the area right next to mine, so I will still see him all the time which will be great. We might do divisions here in a few weeks in honor of his birthday actually.

This week was kind of unproductive because I got sick. I counted and I think I am on like week 27 of the same parasites. Then I got this cold or something that plugged me up, which gave me a nice headache, which was fun. But I think I am getting over it! I feel like sometimes the mission is just kind of a long trial but that is how we grow so it is ok. Pretty much the only way I have made it this far is with the Savior helping and strengthening me. 

We gave baptism interviews in Yalijux this week. We rode on top of a truck which was super fun and kind of sketchy. 

It was like four hours away. It is the farthest area up, the highest area in the Polochic, and the coldest. It is pretty awesome up there, but by the time we arrived it was too dark to take pictures. We did one interview and then we walked back to Semarac in the pitch dark through the mountains. Elder Smart described a horror movie he had seen so I got scared haha. We were walking for like three hours roughly before we made it, it was kind of exhausting. I was already sick so I think that made it worse.

We weren't able to baptize last week because the little girl, Maria, didn't show up to her interview or church. Fidel and Tecla didn't show up either...and neither did the it was not a good week in way of success. I don't know what to think, none of them show up to church, they technically could all be baptized this week, but they only commitment they are keeping is agreeing to being baptized.

This email sounds really depressing when I go back and read it, I swear the week wasn't that bad! We still had some good lessons and stuff so no problem! 

I am with Elder McEntee in La Tinta, where I will probably sleep. We don't have too much planned for today. I will be going back to Coban next week for Consilio (leadership training) so that will be good. I already have like three divisions planned, so we will see what Elder Nelson says.

My spiritual thought this week is about the Book of Mormon. I know it is the word of God. Along with the Bible, it is a testimony of Jesus Christ. It is really important to get a testimony of, because if we know the Book of Mormon is true, then we know Joseph Smith was a Prophet, which means prophets are on the earth, which means every revelation in our Church today is from God. So read the Book of Mormon, and keep reading it. It is a good read!

I love all of you, have a good week!

Love, Elder Toolson

Monday, October 17, 2016

week 59

Let's start with eb´ li poot!

This week was pretty successful! We were able to put four fechas - one with a girl named Angleina, then Maria, and then a couple up in the Mirador named Tecla and Fidel.

The unfortunate part is only Maria showed up to church. Not even the two Paulinas showed up that we had the other fechas with. So we have some investigating to do this week to find out why they didn't show up. I will have to say, it is weird that they commit to baptism but then don't come to church.We could bring them, but it is hard because we go to two Ramas (Branches, two separate congregations) so if we went to get them we would miss the first meeting. It is Rama 1´s Sacrament meeting, so it is important to go to see if we have investigators there. Also because I get to play piano for both! They don't seem to understand that I am just kind of faking my way through the hymns when I play. It is nice to have a job though so that time goes a little faster. I always seem to be hungry on Sundays.

We went down to La Tinta today so Elder Smart could say goodbye to some missionaries there. I'm entering my last week with Elder Smart so that is kind of sad, but I guess that is just how the mission is. Something I have learned about this mission is that no matter which missionary it is, they miss their buddies and the people here, but they are always ready to be done. I actually have a rule I'm going to put into effect after our Christmas phone call - unless you need info on when I come home or about college or something, we aren't allowed to talk about me coming home haha. I feel like from what I have seen it makes it really hard to work.

Tonight we have a Family Home Evening with a member family so that will be super good. Tomorrow we will have Family Home Evening with the other family I told you about. Working with the husband kind of went to poop, he left his family because his wife got mad because he couldn't stop drinking. The Rama is helping her a lot, I don't think the husband feels a lot of support though so I think that might be a big problem. Our Rama normally is really good about this kind of thing, so it must just be taking some time to sort things out.

Ok, time to answer mom's questions.
1. Happiest moment this week: Putting the fechas with the four people was awesome, plus we had a lot of member help so that was good. Maybe they didn't come to church, but it was still good to have more fechas!
2. Most difficult moment this week: We did this really hard service this week where we had to carry this persons house. Like literally, we tore her house down and took all her belongings and then moved it down a hill and up another hill. It was really exhausting and made me tired the rest of the week. People were threatening her because she has a stove (a really heavy stove haha) so she was worried they were going to kill her and stuff. No one has anything like that here and she has it completely paid off and it is actually pretty nice, so they wanted it I guess. They wrote messages outside her house and everything apparently. She is living more in the community now and she is next to members. I know you are probably asking why she didn't call the police, but I don't think there is much the police would do. I wasn't able to snag any pictures while we were working, but here we are taking a break.

3. Funniest moment this week: Something that has been happening between me, Elder Bos and Elder Smart is our English is getting really awful. So a couple quotes from the week. Me - "hey guys, I was looking at the calendar and the 25th falls on a Christmas this year!" Not really sure what I was trying to say there. Elder Bos - we were talking about our favorite Disney princesses at the time - "I am more of a Jasmine girl." At first none of us caught it, but then we realized that Elder Bos is not a Jasmine girl, but a Jasmine guy haha. (Editor's note - how cute are these sweet missionaries?)
4. Cutest thing I saw this week: We were just on our way up from La Tinta right now and I was sitting with Elder Bos and we were playing with a little girl who was super cute. I should have taken a picture but I forgot. 
5. Most spiritual moment this week: This is kind of cheating, but it was pretty spiritual to put all those fechas in like two days. That felt pretty good.
6. Longest walk this week: Either the Mirador or an appointment we went to far enough away that some members actually drove us in a car, and then we had to walk home. If those investigators come to church they have the strongest faith in the world!

Dad asked how things are going with my health. Eh, they are going. I think I will just have to get used to being sick until I finish my mission.

My spiritual thought for this week is from an interview I saw with David A. Bednar. He was asked the question, "How can I achieve both temporal and spiritual self reliance without focusing primarily on temporal self reliance?" Elder Bednar had some strong feelings. He said "Number one, I don't like the term self reliance. We should never rely on self. First and foremost, we should recognize our dependence on God and our reliance upon Him... We are children of God. Through the Savior's Atonement we are blessed with moral agency. The principle of moral agency is the least understood of all gospel principles...Why do we have agency? ... It is to choose Him. Not to choose what we want, but to choose God, and to love and serve each other... As we begin to have the name of Christ come upon us through ordinances and covenants, we have a new family name: Christian. And with that name we are to represent Him at all times and in all places and in all things... When we enter into that covenant and begin to have the name of Christ come upon us, our agency is enlarged. It's no longer individual agency. It is enlarged to become representative agency. And representing Christ and His name at all times and in all places and in all things becomes more important than what we want."
Don't know what more can be said.

I love you and have a good week!

Love, Elder Toolson

Monday, October 10, 2016

week 58

Hey! First of all, we are working hard. I thrashed my third pair of shoes...

But we baptized Kimberly! It was nice, there was a lot of family and ward support (probably because her family are all members of the church) so it was super awesome. 

We might have a couple more baptisms this week or the next so that will be good. We went and visited the two Paulinas that didn't show up for their baptisms a couple weeks ago, and they said they still want to. We will be working hard with them this week. We have to hike an hour straight up to visit them, I tried to make a little video of the area. 

I went on divisions with Elder Barney and Elder Castro. They seem like they are doing good. Our numbers are a lot better for the Zone this week, so that is good! That is about all I have to base how things are going off to be honest. I was in my old area in Santo Domingo so that was fun! I saw Rudy, the first convert I helped! He is doing good.

(Editor's note: Joe sent a lot of unlabeled pics this week, not sure who is who,
but these are all people he worked with during the past week!)

We also had surprise interviews this week with President and those went over really well, it felt really good. We were all nervous at first, but President Faundez is kind of a short, sweet and to the point kind of guy, which I like a lot. I was able to talk about a lot of stuff I've been carrying and it felt really good so that was nice!

My fungus is almost completely gone so that is another small victory haha. 

I will be saying goodbye to Elder Smart here in two weeks, which is super sad. Also if I stay as a zone leader I will probably get sent to Coban which would also be super sad. There are two ZLs in Coban that know Kekchi so I could easily get changed with one of them. To be honest, I'm really tired of being zone leader. I'd be really content with one more change, then they can make me a normal missionary again. It is just not that much fun all the time. But salvation was never easy for the Savior, why would it be for us? I'm just hoping that sometime soon I can just be a normal missionary in the mountains. But it is whatever Heavenly Father wants!

My spiritual thought this week comes from my interview with President. It just helped me realize how leaders in the church are absolutely called by God, not by man. A lot of times in my life I think I failed to recognize that. It was valuable for me to learn because it helped me realize that what he was saying to me was from Heavenly Father, not from him. He just knew the right things to say and at the right time, it was awesome. 

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

Elder Toolson

Monday, October 3, 2016

week 57

Hey! Our week was kind of rough until Conference, nothing much in way of success, nobody was home so that was kind of a bummer. We did a lot of hiking, which is pretty normal. We walked to Se`soch on Wednesday and Thursday, which isn't far but it is like straight up hill and walking down is horrible on the knees so that was a treat. And we went back to the Mirador on Friday. Me and Elder Smart out-hiked two Qawachins (native Guatemalans) so I was feeling like we pounded up there! I was going to take a picture with them but uh...they wanted to leave really fast haha. The down hill from Mirador is also horrible on the knees, plus we did this leg workout the day before we walked up there, I almost died. We could barely walk on Saturday so it was a good thing it was a General Conference day!

General Conference (a twice yearly, two day meeting when the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints speak about Jesus and other gospel topics, you can find links here) was thankfully in all three languages, English, Spanish and Kekchi, so that was awesome! And the Conference messages were awesome so that was awesome! We had a few investigators there so that was good, but none of our references showed up so that was a bummer. 

A great thing is Kimberly gets baptized tomorrow! So dope! She is pilas as heck so we are happy to see her wanting to get baptized. The Family Home Evening I told you about went well, we showed some Mormon Messages about Christ (link here) and bore our testimonies of Him so it was a good time. We will be going back there again tomorrow after the baptism. 

In our leadership training meeting last Monday we talked a lot about obedience. I think that is something we can always work on. Needless to say we were all motivated to do better afterwards. 

(Photo of Elder Toolson enjoying a meal during training, pc: Sister Ellie Scruggs)

Fun detail, I can add a foot fungus to my mission diseases! It is almost gone, it just got really bad in the middle of the week, it like opened up and was bleeding a little bit and stuff and it was horrible. But I'm better now!

No news on the mail situation so that is a bummer. We are having a pretty mellow p-day, we could have gone to La Tinta but Elder Smart and I are tired of traveling. Some members gave us food so that was awesome, and now we will write, and maybe finish our free time watching a church movie.

My spiritual thought this week comes from one of the overall themes I kind of got from Conference. I felt like it talked about repentance and how we can be made clean through it. I just want to share a thought that I didn't realize until my time in the mission. Repentance is not a punishment! My entire time as a youth I always felt like it was something to be embarrassed and ashamed of, but really it is just the process of becoming more like Christ, which is awesome! We should all go do it every night when we pray. Repenting is awesome!

I love all of you, have a good week!
Love, Elder Toolson