Monday, January 30, 2017

week 74

Hey! Things here are pretty good, I have been feeling pretty good this week so all is good health wise. Things with my companion are really good, he is one of my favorite comps I have had yet. The only problem is we both are kind of passive with each other. Like neither of us like to make decisions, so we both always say "no! Whatever you want to do!" I mean, for the work of course we go hard! I just mean for like what we are going to eat that day and stuff haha.

Mario's daughter started studying this week so that was a crying shame. I think she is going back to elementary school with her mom, they just didn't have the chance to go when they were growing up. I'm not really sure what the story is, I'm just sad because it means neither of them can go to church for a year which means they won't really be able to progress. They are studying here in Teleman but can only study on Sundays. They tried to find a different time slot but couldn't. If the daughter can't come to church, she can't get the attendance she needs to be baptized.  And Mario's wife needs to get ready so she can go to the temple with him and be sealed in December. I don't really know what to do about it. We are trying to find a solution. We will talk with them again tomorrow. They are a special family, I wish I could be there when they get sealed. That's the hard thing about going home, you miss all the awesome things that happen with the people you taught.

Something exciting is we started teaching an English speaking investigator! He is this guy that has taken English classes and understands just about everything perfectly. It is pretty weird teaching him. English is hard haha. President of the Rama (Branch President) says that he only wants to practice his English and doesn't really care about the church, but we are going to give him a couple more citas and see what he says. The President of the Rama is really pilas as a president (pilas is like where you are a stud at something, so pilas in church means they do everything they are asked to dobut he doesn't offer a lot of missionary support.

Things here are good but we are having a hard time finding people who will really progress. We have people that talk really encouraging but never make the final step to be baptized. But we will keep working! We had some new people show up to church this week so we are going to go visit them and see what they thought. 

Mom and Dad, you both asked if we had heard the announcement about the changes in the missionary schedule. ("Possible changes and flexibility in the daily schedules of the LDS Church's full-time missionaries were announced Wednesday... Missionaries — in counsel with their respective mission presidents — now can customize their schedules to accommodate safety, local culture, health, productivity and other circumstances." You can read more about it here.I think we are going to talk about that in our meeting next week. Hopefully it doesn't cause any more problems with obedience. It should help here though because normally after 7, unless we have a cita, nobody will accept us. We are thinking about setting early morning appointments, maybe doing all our studying at night and eating breakfast and going out right after. But we don't want to change anything until President tells us. We are pretty excited for it, we just have to make sure we get everything in and it will be a good day.

Today I am in my area, we played soccer in La Tinta, then cut our hair with an investigator, and now we are writing. Here in twenty minutes or so we are going to go make pancakes with some recent converts and an investigator. The pancakes here aren't quite the same as at home... I am craving some of dads Swedish pancakes right now, haha.

My spiritual thought comes on an experience that I had with our investigator in English, His name is Victor. I was sharing my testimony at the end of the first lesson and was telling him that we are here because we know the Gospel is true. I started to say all the usual stuff about how we left our family and studies and friends because we want to share what we know, but it hit me in the middle of saying that stuff - this mission is not a sacrifice in any way. I am extremely blessed to be able to give two years of my life for the Lord. I wish I could give more. 

us, tinwotz bayaq´ xnawom inch´ool eerik´in se´ li loq´laj aatinob´aal a´in, ab´ana chinaakuy eb´ li neke´xnaw li qeq´chi´ xb´aan naq ink´a nanaw chi us xtz´iib´ankil se´ qeq´chi´. Ab´anan ninaw rik´ink chi anchal inch´ool naq li JesuKristo nokoxra ut naxnaw li qu ut li qach´ool. Ninaw naq a´an kixtoj li rix li qamaak re naq tookolek wi toochalk rik´in a´an ut naqaq´axtesi li qach´ool choq re a´an. Ninaw naq ka´ajwi xb´aan lix tojb´al li rix li qamaak li JesuKristo tooruq chi xtawb´al li qakolb´al, ut maa´ani chik nachalk li qakolb´al. Ninaw naq maaka xwankil li kamk sa´ qab´een xb´aan xq´axtesihom li JesuKrstio. Junelik nokoruuk chixyotb´al li qach´ool ut chixjalb´al li qayuam, ut Li Yos ut Li JesuKristo junelik nokoxra ut naraj chi qilb´al wichik. Jwal osob´tesinb´ilo xb´aan naq nokoruuk chi wank rik´ineb´ ut rik´in li qajunkab´al chi junelik q´e kutan. (Ok, I am going to share a little bit of the knowledge of my heart in this holy language, but endure with me those that know Kekchi, because I don't know how to write very well. But I know with all of my heart that Jesus Christ loves us and knows us and our hearts. I know that He paid for our sins so that we can be saved and come with Him and surrender our hearts for Him. I know that only through the Atonement of Jesus Christ we find our salvation, and only through Him comes our salvation. I know that death will have no power over us because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We can always repent and change our lives, and God and Jesus Christ always love us and want to see us again. We are very blessed because we can be with Them and our family forever.)

I love all of you! Have a good week!

Love, Elder Toolson

P.S I forgot to take pics this week...I'm sorry...

Monday, January 23, 2017

week 73

Hey, this week for us was kind of rough at first. I was pretty sick for the most of the week. I'm not really sure what it was, I had a pretty high fever for a night and then I had like the worst intestinal troubles of my mission a couple days after. I was the only one sick that I know of, I think it has to do with parasites but I'm not 100% sure. So we had two days lost. But I got better, so no problem! I feel pretty good, or at least normal for the mission.

We had a couple of days without any real success. I think we had a day where we contacted for like 5 or 6 hours and we got into one house. So that was a little discouraging. This picture was after we got rejected like 25 times in a row and we passed a tienda and were just like...let's get a coke, haha. I am going to have to go back to root beer once I get home, the coke in the States just doesn't compare.

We did find a couple people that I think will progress and also some good references we are excited to contact. Just one showed up to church, she is the daughter of Mario but I don't think she lives with them. I hadn't met her until now. With both of her parents and her brother as members I think there will be a lot of family support for her. She looks like she is about my age but I haven't asked yet, we met pretty briefly.

Elder Ibarra is awesome! He is excited to start working out with me, today was day one and we survived okay. I didn't work out last week because I was sick and he waited for me which was dope of him. We get along really well, it is kind of like when I was with Smart, just a little different because of the language. But it is awesome. 

These drinks are called Isomax, they are like bags of fruit juice and the best thing ever. I am going to order them from here once I am back home haha. 

The picture was taken on our way to Canlun during the week. We went on Friday I think to make sure that little girl got confirmed last week and to contact and visit a little bit. Next week I might be going to El Estor to see how they are doing. It seems like everyone is doing ok, but there were a lot of changes and a lot of new people came in so we are still seeing how that is going. In our zone there are two districts, eight areas and sixteen missionaries. We communicate with them pretty consistently, but the companionships mostly talk with the District Leaders, who report to us, and then we talk to the Assistants to the President.

This picture was also taken when we were on our way to Canlun. 

Yes, I have a selfie stick. It came with a box of cereal, it definitely won't be used back home haha. It was some kind of special promotion and when I saw that they were selling Trix and a selfie stick, I knew I had to buy it! That was my first Trix in my whole mission! It is nice because we can use real milk on our cereal here in the valley. If we eat it fast it doesn't expire. Other than that we have to buy milk in Polvo and that stuff is pretty nasty. When we are in the mountains without a refrigerator that is all there is and that with cereal is not my favorite thing.We have a fridge here, thank goodness, it is so hot I think we would die without one. It has really started getting hot. One of the days when I was sick, I tried to leave to work. We were waiting in a truck to go to Canlun and the sun was so strong I started to see black spots and almost passed out. I was probably dehydrated, but I always try to drink like three liters of water in the morning so that doesn't happen. We have a filter we use, but we buy a lot of bagged or bottled water too.

It sounds like the Sisters are hanging in there, I met them today when we went to La Tinta and they are all nice. Everyone says they are doing good at the end of the week so that is good. We just went to La Tinta to buy food for the semana (week), we started cooking lunch together to try to save money. We actually had a shopping list and everything, it was weird. We make rice and beans, or pasta. We can buy tomato sauce but it has like zero flavor here, I miss the spaghetti mom used to make.

I started running this week too and it is not pretty. I haven't gotten to run consistently my entire time here so I am REALLY out of running shape. I'm not going to lie, I think my knee is pretty wrecked, I think the year or so I have had in the mountain kind of made sure of that. But that torn meniscus does pretty well most of the time!

My spiritual thought this week comes from two things. Number one, we taught Mario's family about temples and I just want to say that temples are the best and I am so grateful and blessed that I can be with you guys forever because of temple sealings (you can read more about this here.) The second one is just how sweet Priesthood blessings (explanation hereare. I was sick for a couple of days, and then I think Thursday night I got my blessing. My companion did it, good to know that he is ready for any situation.  The next day I was able to work. The church is awesome! I love all of you!

Love, Elder Toolson

Monday, January 16, 2017

week 72

Hey, this was a pretty busy week with changes so we had a lot to do. The big news is, I am staying in Teleman! And Elder Lara (most recent companion) is the new Assistant to President! I was super happy for him, he is perfect for the job. He will be amazing! He seemed pretty excited too, so all in all it was good. My new companion is Elder Ibarra and I am so hyped about that because he is one of my guate´s (like a buddy or a homie.) It is his first change as Zone Leader so I am going to kind of be training him in a way, but he seems pretty well prepared so I don't think there is much to teach!

Something else exciting that happened this week is they sent Hermanas (Sister Missionaries) to the Polochic! That hasn't been done in who knows how many years! There will be 3 companionships, two in La Tinta and one in Senahu. They opened up a second area there. Neither area is in my zone, so I will only see them on the P-days when I go to La Tinta. Poor Elder Bos will have to manage the transition. I feel sort of sorry for the Elders in those areas, because people here love the sisters. When I was in Senahu alll they did was talk about how much they love sisters. Which is great, but kind of hard too. I know because that is kind of how it was this last change because everyone loves Elder Lara so much. But it worked out for me because he didn't really know qeq' chi, so I got along with the people that talk qeq´chi really well.

Today was a sad day because I said goodbye to my buddies Elder Gonzalez and Elder Reed, their two years are up and they are going home. The weird thing was when Reed hugged me he said "I'll see you soon man!" But don't worry, I know I'm never going home! We are in Coban for changes. My new companion is here, we met up last night. It is just a one day trip, we got up at 2:30 this morning and we will be heading back in a couple of hours. We will probably just write, eat and then leave. I am dying haha. I hopefully will be able to sleep on the way back.

We did some divisions with Saqsuha this week with Elder Pin and Elder Vega so I have some mountain fotos for you. That was pretty fun. 

Maria is a recent convert, along with her family. We made pancakes with them one day this week.

Also there was a little girl from Canlun that asked me to baptize her, so that was really special. I met her my second week or so in Teleman. We went looking in Canlun to see if anyone needed to be baptized, and we found out about Aida. She is from a member family and has 8 years with her, but her dad would only let her be taught and baptized by missionaries. So we taught her. The dad does have the Priesthood, he just doesn't really understand what a blessing it is too use it. This is kind of common in some areas here, I think in Canlun it is worse. The people here are just so used to the missionaries doing a lot that they don't think they can do things themselves. It is something we are trying to change with them. 

We finished the baptism kind of late so there were no more trucks or buses to go back in, we had to go by boat. It is like minute and a half in the boat or less, there are two guys that just push it across with a big stick. It costs 2 qetz each person. I'm not really sure how many people it holds, we just sit on the side and I have never seen it fill up. From the boat it is maybe an hour, or hour and a half, walk home.

I have a few more pictures for you. This is the family of Michelle and Blanca Iris

This is Flory and part of her family, she is a little lady who recently joined the church that we try to visit once a week

And this is Mario's family

He is doing Awesome! He is going to church and has the Priesthood now, and we are starting to teach them about the temple so they can get prepared for that. The people here go to the temple maybe once or twice a year if they don't have money, if they have money they can go whenever they want. They are awesome!

Ok, I will try to answer your questions now Mom.

1. I think my favorite thing about Teleman are the member families here, they are all super nice.
2. My least favorite thing is that it isn't the mountains haha, and it isn't 100% qeq´chi.
3. The weirdest and scariest thing that has happened here was probably what happened with my buddy who died in Canlun, I have never had anything like that happen before.
4. The happiest thing was probably seeing Mario baptized, that was a big testimony builder to see how the church changed his life.
6. The people we have taught the most in this area are probably Mario, Michelle, and Blanca Iris. Those are the three baptisms that we have had in my time here.
7. Those are the two families that we have spent the most time with as well (see pictures)
8. Since Teleman is in the valley, it is kind of commercialized, so all of the food is pretty standard here. Sorry, that is probably a disappointing answer.
9. The biggest challenge for me here is probably staying excited to work. When I know I am going to go out and speak 100% qeq´chi and be in mountains I am so much more excited, but in Teleman there are days it is hard to get myself going.
10. When it is time to leave, I will definitely miss those two families we have baptized most, I have gotten very close to them.

Dad asked about the weather - it actually has been raining a lot lately, I think I lucked out in the time of the year I am here. I'm fine at night, I can still sleep with just a sheet and not have a problem. I do pretty well with sleep, I think getting up at 4:30 helps me sleep a little better. My new companion says he wants to do the work out schedule with me so we will see how it goes! I know he has already started working out so it might just be the getting up early part. I want to come home in decent shape. People still tell me sometimes "mas nim aatib´el" which means I am fat haha.

My spiritual thought this week is about the Book of Mormon. This week I was able to finish it completely in qeq´chi which was awesome. As I was reading the last chapter I was kind of praying in my heart and when I read the last few verses I just felt this peace come over me. Lix Hu laj Mormon a´an li raatin li yos! Nanaw a´an rik´in chi anchal inch´ool! Nekexinra! (The Book of Mormon is the word of God and I know that with all of my heart. I love you all!)

Love, Elder Toolok

Monday, January 9, 2017

week 71

Hey! This week went pretty good. My favorite part was getting to do some divisions in my old area Sepamac, it is always fun to go back to an old area where I served when I didn't know Kekchi, and talk in Kekchi. The people there are so nice. I visited one family who are awesome, I feel like they are my family away from my family, they asked me to stay and build my house next to theirs. Then I saw a girl I baptized. She is doing good but I was bummed because I also baptized her older sister and she told me that her older sister went off and is living with some guy. So I guess she didn't get the message about the law of chastity. There are no missionaries in the area she lives in now so that is kind of a bummer. I was serving with a new guy named Elder Garcia. He is from Mexico, his accent is different from any other Mexicans I have heard so it was kind of hard to understand him. He didn't learn Kekchi in the MTC, he got thrown in like the rest of us haha. I think he likes it ok, but he is still getting used to the culture of the qeq´chi´ people so I think it is hard for him to have patience with them.

Another awesome thing that happened this week was Mario got the Priesthood! It is awesome to see him progressing the way he is. Other than that, we got a new reference that we contacted, a guy named Miner who is the boyfriend of a member and we have pretty high hopes for him so we will see what happens this week. Also a guy named Jorge Mario came to church this week and he seems pretty interested, we taught him part of the plan of salvation and he seemed to like it. Other than that nothing too exciting to share. We got somewhere around 15 teaching appointments this week, which was a little lower than normal. We weren't really sure what was up but no one really seemed down to listen to the Gospel this week. When we go to visit a house we stand outside and go "HOoooo!" in a really high pitched voice. That is how people knock doors here haha. Whether it is an already scheduled cita or a contact or anything we do that. The people here will accept you and invite you in, but they don't understand that every church is different. They just like talking about God, which is cool. But when we invite them to church and they say they will go, then they go to their own church thinking that is what we meant. It seems like we are having a hard time finding people to accept a fecha (baptism date.) Some are coming out to church and progressing, but nobody seems to want a fecha. But we will keep trying!

I have some pictures of my area for you, these were taken right above Teleman. We had to hike a bit to find this view.

We are in El Estor with district Chulac for p-day, so I am with  Elder Ibarra and Nielsen. It is a good time. We found a store that sold tres leches cake so no complaints.

Next week is transfers so we will see what happens. I don't really have any predictions or anything. President and the APs say that they don't want people to spend their whole mission in the Polochic, so my time is probably coming to move on. I'm pretty bummed. I wish they would do it soon so I can have enough time for them to send me back into the Polochic to die (in mission speak, to die is to go home) but that doesn't look too likely.

My spiritual thought this week comes on parents! I just realized this week how blessed I was to have parents like you, Mom and Dad. Here a lot of the parents always seem to be yelling or hitting their kids, but you guys are the dopest. And then I think if you guys love me so much, imagine how much Heavenly Father loves all of us! It is pretty awesome. I hope you guys have a good week, I love you!

Love, Elder Toolok

Monday, January 2, 2017

week 70

Hey! We are in Coban today, we had a leadership training meeting. President and his wife spoke. They talked a lot about obedience so it was a good reminder on what we should be doing. Then we drew straws to see who would talk. Thankfully I didn't have to because that would have made it three times in a row! The missionaries talked about Chapter 3 in Preach My Gospel, which is about the five lessons we teach: the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Plan of Salvation, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Commandments, and Laws and Ordinances. After the meeting some of the guys went to play soccer, but I didn't want to so me and Elder Bos went to eat food instead. We just ate some ice cream, after we finish writing we are going to go find some real food. Maybe pizza or subway or taco bell, we are still deciding. We will stay in Coban tonight. It will be good because my companion and I are staying in the same house as some of my buddies. It should be a good time. Then we will head back to our area tomorrow. 

The open house went really well, we were able to sacar some references which was good too. We had like 10 investigators in church which is really good for us.

We were also able to baptize and confirm Blanca Iris and Michelle, so it was a good start to the new year!

This week went pretty well, I was able to do some divisions in my area with Elder Ibarra and he is awesome. I am rooting for him for my next companion. He seems pretty likely so that would be good. Transfers happen again in two weeks. There are rumors that they might open another zone in the Polochic. There are nine Kekchi speakers coming in so I think they have to open areas. My top choice would be to go back to the mountains and train a new missionary. I try to stay happy no matter what, but I think it would be hard to finish outside of the Polochic. But if that is what God wants there isn't much I can say, haha.

We went with a member that Elder Lara knew in Panzos this week for New Year's Eve and ate some pig leg and salad so that was nice. It was pretty good, that lady knew how to make pig leg!

Lots of fireworks were let off of course. We were pretty tired so we went to bed at a normal time, set an alarm at 12:00 and said happy new year, then rolled over and went back to sleep.

Mom asked me about rats. There were some rats in my last house, we killed a few but the father of the family (we named him Jeff) kept fighting. Now Elder Bos is doing battle with him! We just have ants and some occasional frogs in our house here.

My spiritual thought this week comes from our meeting with President today. Like I said, he talked about the importance of obedience. He explained to us that the reason Jesus Christ progressed so much in the premortal existence was due to His obedience. Something I have learned in the mission is that without doing our best to be obedient, we may make it through life and have a good job and family, but we will never arrive to be the men and women God wants us to be until we can align our will with that of Gods. I love all of you and hope you have a good week! 

Love, Elder Toolok