Monday, November 28, 2016

week 65

Hey, it sounds like you guys had a really good Thanksgiving which is awesome. I'm glad the whole family could get together and everything went well and thank you for the pictures! 

Things this week were good, we started out the week in our area and we found a dope lady named Maria I will talk about later.

Do you remember the lady we baptized in August named Herlyinda? She is in our area, we visited her this week. She is all good, she just has a hard time reading the Book of Mormon consistently. The family gave us some snails to eat!

I went up to Chijolom to do divisions with Elder Zavala, it is like a two or three hour ride up there in the truck. It was super fun! He is a really cool guy, he is still pretty new but he kuyuks the mountains pretty good and has a good attitude. He reminds me of a younger Toolok because he didn't go through the Kekchi program so he has been thrown in like me. So I can sympathize with him a little haha.

We found some good investigators that I think could progress in the future. We got to go to Se´ wilix which was super fun and then Tz´aj pek. The waterfall is in a place called Se´chaj which is a pretty good hike, it is like an hour and a half or so.

The church in Se´chaj is so small it is called a Group, not even a Branch.

We hiked another two hours to Chijolom. Chijolom means "to the head" in Kekchi which fits because when you are there you are at the top.

We managed to get a little Thanksgiving lunch at the comedor we always eat at on Thursday. It was awesome!

My health is doing good now. I just kind of have an annoying cough but it is nothing bad. The giardia is all better.

We are in Coban today, hoping to do a little shopping, I need a new backpack. I think I am going to Yalijux this week, which will be dope because once I do that I will officially know every single area that has ever been opened and is open in the Polochic. It is the highest area in the mountains and the most far away, Elder Mendoza and Elder Miranda are there now.

My spiritual thought this week comes from our lesson with Maria. She is super sad right now because her parents died. We explained the Plan of Salvation to her, and when I promised her that she would see her parents again she just got this big smile on her face. It just reminded me how lucky we are to be a part of this gospel and have a testimony of Gods plan for us. I know that He wants all of us to live with Him again and to live together with our families. The Atonement of Jesus Christ is what makes this possible.

I love all of you!

Love, Elder Toolson

Monday, November 21, 2016

week 64

Hey! This week for us was good, except we weren't in our area very much. Monday through Wednesday we were in Coban, the meeting with President Duncan was awesome! I will share some stuff with him as a spiritual thought. The Zone Leader duties went alright, I didn't have to get anybody in trouble which was the main goal haha. I played the piano for for the conference. It went ok, but I know I messed up a few times. (Editor's note - we have a friend, Ellie Scruggs, who is also serving in the Coban mission. In her letter this week she said: "Joe played the piano at conference and he did awesome!!!" So it sounds like Elder Toolson did just fine!)

The "Mountain Elders" - Joe's zone - with Elder and Sister Duncan and President and Sister Faundez (pc: Guatemala Coban Mission page)

Zone Leaders, Assistants to the President and Sister Training Leaders with Elder and Sister Duncan and President and Sister Faundez (pc: Guatemala Coban Mission page)

Mission buddies, clockwise from upper left: Joe with Elders Zavala, Bos and Zavala, Reed, McEntee, Bos, and Sister Scruggs.

We slept in La Tinta Wednesday night and then headed back up here in Senahu. We were able to get people to say that they would come to church. but once again they didn't so that was kind of a bummer. But we had a baptism so that was good!  

The other excitement is that I actually got a new sickness this week! It is called Giardia and it is a lot of fun. I had a fever one of the nights we were in Coban but it wasn't too bad. I don't know if it is a parasite, I heard it was just a virus, so who knows how I got it.

We stayed in our area for p-day today. We played some soccer and basketball with some members so that was fun. Soccer I got it handed to me but I did ok in basketball haha. I was also playing with Elder Bos and he is really athletic.

We are going to go up to Chijolom to do divisions this week and I think we are going to get to see a waterfall so that should be good. I will be with Elder Zavala, he is the newer guy, he is awesome!

Ok, here are some dope things Elder Duncan said: "The Atonement isn't something we just teach, it is something we experience. When we are converted to the gospel, we will have the desire to share it with others, and not just experience it ourselves." I thought it was pretty significant he used the word "experience" twice. This gospel isn't just going to church on Sundays, it is a life long experience, and it is an experience so awesome that when we realize that, we have to share it with others. Another thing Elder Duncan said that I liked is he was talking about how we get what we put in. If we only give a little to the Lord then we will only get a little back. I guess it is the same thing with life, that's how school or sports work as well, so it makes sense!

I love you, have a good week, 

Love, Elder Toolson

Monday, November 14, 2016

week 63

Hey! This week was good for us, we made it up to the Mirador to see the Paulinas and they said they still want to be baptized. They said one of them had been sick, but then they still didn't come yesterday after promising they would so I have no idea what to think. They live really far from the church, about an hour straight up the mountain, so that might be part of the problem.

We did get to baptize a little girl! She asked me to baptize her so that was a nice thing. 

Elder Kevin R. Duncan is visiting the mission this week, he is the President of the Central America Area and is over the missions in Guatemala. He came to the CCM while I was there too. The ENTIRE mission is here in Coban right now to see him, so it is crazy. I think there are maybe 130 missionaries? It is weird seeing all these people that I don't know. This is the first time something like this has happened while I've been here, it makes me really want to not be Zone Leader because of responsibility to get people to places and stuff haha. I think that we got everyone everywhere they need to be so far. We chartered a bus. Hopefully we can get to our sleeping place safely, they say it is at an Institute building or something. We have one meeting at 6 tonight and then meetings all day tomorrow. It should be good.

I had the chance to serve with Elder Bos this week, it was awesome. We helped set up for a surprise party!

I also got to help Gordy with a service project and then they fed us dinner. Eating dinner with gringos was AWESOME. That is hands down the best food I have had in 16 months! They gave us some meat and rice and some vegetable that I thought was potatoes but got embarrassed because it wasn't haha, I can't remember what it was called. 

(photo credit for the next two snaps: Gordy Hamm)

My health is pretty good, nothing new to report there, my cough is getting better so that is good. My companion is good! We are getting along really well and all so I have no complaints.

My spiritual thought is kind of a repeat from last week about how much the baptismal covenant means. We visited a menos activo (less active person) this week and as I was talking to him, explaining to him that when he made the baptism covenant he promised God he would keep his commandments, it hit me super hard how big of a deal that is! Like once we make the covenant, it is made! And God can't break it, only we can! So we should probably do our best to keep that covenant so we can be an eternal family and be with God and Christ forever. 

I love you!
Love, Elder Toolson

Monday, November 7, 2016

week 62

Hey! It was a pretty good week overall, hopefully we can keep finding new contacts that will progress, that seems like the hardest thing. We find people that let us in but they never progress. We did a lot of contacting and found a kid named Sebastian that seems really interested but he is going to leave to work soon so we will hopefully get to teach him really fast. We have two kids with baptism dates for this Saturday so hopefully that will play out well. Elder Nelson is a hard worker which is nice. At first he seemed super serious but he is warming up and we are joking around and stuff now. We went on divisions with Se´ritk´iche´ this week, I went with the new guy named Elder Hair and he seems like he is doing pretty well which is good. He learned Kekchi in the CCM so he can talk a tiny tiny bit and understand a tiny bit. We hiked up a really really big mountain and it was raining and super muddy and we were really tired. I wish I would have taken pictures, but it was really foggy so I guess you wouldn't have seen much anyways. Consilio went well, we learned about being more obedient as usual. I made it through my talk without crying so that was good. Actually I guess I teared up a bit from the Spirit but I still made it through so that was nice haha. 

Time for fotos!

Elder Nelson and I found a new path so I decided to take advantage of the photo opportunity. Everything you see is in our area. 

These are just some kids we found on the path, and they got excited when I pulled the camera out so I took a picture with them. You can see their little kites like I told you about last week.

Also I wanted to send you a picture of some of the people that go to English class, Kandy, Ceaser, and Abelino. We have some other people come but not frequently.

I'm with Elder Bos in Coban today for p-day. Elder Nelson is with Elder Bos comp in Senahu, or maybe La Tinta, I'm not sure. So far we ate some waffles, printed out pics, and now we are writing our letters. We might take a parasite exam but we realized we forgot to tell the nurse we were sick, and I already know I have them so I don't really want to waste money. We will probably just go find some more food and then catch a bus back to the area. It is good getting to pass some time with him. Here is a picture haha.

Ok, now to answer Mom's questions.

1. Most spiritual moment this week: Ok this is going to take a while and I will count it as my spiritual thought. When I was on divisions with Elder Hair we got down from the mountain and wanted to contact one more house before going home, so we went and found this house and they let us in. There were about fourteen people there and all of them were super Nazereno, so I could tell it wasn't going to be that fun. I think Nazereno is the most stubborn church besides our own. When we walked in I could tell they were already kind of muttering and making fun of us, and since Elder Hair is so new, I knew I was going to kind of have to do it on my own a bit. We taught a quick lesson about the trinity and then invited them to church. After the invite the father of the house went off on this long tangent about how he is happy we are there, but he is in his own church, but it doesn't really matter where we go to church because there is only one God and he doesn't care where we go (a very very common belief here.) At the end he was like (this is going to sound weird because I am translating from Kekchi and it doesn't translate that well) "but who is going to receive the gift from your service?"
Me- "You guys will, we are here for you!
Him- "No, you guys will! You're doing this to make your burden lighter before God!"
Me (getting kind of angry and frustrated) "No, we have no reason to be here for ourselves, we left our families, our studies, and our lives back in the states! And we did it.." (Ok this part is the cool part. So up until now I had been pretty mad and I wanted to fight this guy a little bit. But then when I paused right there - this is going to sound kind of cheesy - I all the sudden just felt a bunch of love for those people. It almost felt like a moment from the Ensign or something. I totally felt the Spirit help me out. Anyways, back to the story) "We did it because we love you guys. I may not know your faces yet, but your are my brothers and sisters and I love you guys and want you to be happy. You don't have to come to church but you are invited."
When I said we loved them it got like dead quiet and they all like zoomed on us. Then they gave us pig intestine caldo, so that made me feel good! Anyways it was really nice that the Spirit helped me there, because I wasn't handling myself very well on my own. It was just awesome to feel such love for those people.

2. Something I learned this week: In my personal studies I have been reading the Book of Mormon in Kekchi. I just finished 2 Nephi. 2 Nephi 31:17 -20 "Wherefore, do the things which I have told you I have seen that your Lord and Redeemer should do; for, for this cause have they been shown unto me, that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter. For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost. And then are ye in this strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life; yea, ye have entered in by the gate; ye have done according to the commandments of the Father and the Son; and ye have received the Holy Ghost, which witnesses of the Father and the Son, unto the fulfilling of the promise which he hath made, that if ye entered in by the way ye should receive. And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into the strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save. Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect hope, and a love of God and all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life."  Where it was talking about baptism and enduring to the end it just helped me realize that even though I was baptized at only 8, I made a really serious covenant with the Lord, one that I need to keep for life. I mean I had always known it was serious, but I guess I just didn't realize how serious. One other thing, we normally sing at least two hymns a lesson, and I learned how to harmonize on some songs so that is fun!

3. The happiest thing this week was either my spiritual experience or meeting Sebastian, because he seems really interested in what we have to say.

4. The most exhausting thing was definitely walking up that big mountain in divisions. It was really high and steep and slippery, and I got really tired.

5. The most "Guatemala" thing was probably getting fed pig intestine haha. That was the first time I've been given intestine, it was actually pretty good! It tastes a lot like turtle. I guess that doesn't mean a lot to you, turtle is good, it tastes like any other meat but a lot more rubbery I guess. I ate that in Panzos like six months ago or so.

We have a couple things planned for this next week. We need to visit our fechas that didn't make it to church. Gordy showed up with my package and invited us to dinner so that will be fun! Also, next week I might not be able to write for long at all because of a conference we have. The President of the missions here in Central America is coming if I understand right.

Something I've been thinking of lately is what President Cox said in the CCM: "Be yourself, but be the best version of yourself that you have ever been." I love all of you! 

Love, Elder Toolson