Tuesday, March 28, 2017

week 82

Hey! We had a pretty decent week this week. We are in Coban today because we had our Leader Training meeting (more on that later.) We will probably write then print out some pictures and then go get some food. We are staying overnight this time because it is a pain to do the whole trip here and back in one day. Transfers are coming again, that is always a good source of gossip. I think I am going to get taken out of the Polochic for my last two changes. Others say I will get to realize my dream of training, and some say I will go to be zone leader in Chulac. I would be thrilled with the last two and okay with the first one. I just really want to train but its okay if I don't. And I can't complain if I get sent out, I have been really blessed to stay as long as I have.

Ronald didn't come to church again, we are really bummed. But Mario is doing great, he and his wife went to the Temple for the first time last week! Mario said it was super awesome but super hard because the whole family couldn't be together. His daughter is doing her studies and hasn't come to church, so she still hasn't been able to be baptized, plus one son who couldn't go. I am excited for General Conference this week, but I still don't know where we will be watching it.

I guess I will just dive in with the answers to mom's questions.

1. Our most exciting part of the week is we went to contact a new village that was way far up the mountain with the missionaries of Saqsuha. That was the first time we had ever been there so it was awesome to see a new place. I don't think that is the farthest I've gone up the mountains, but it might be close. I have some pictures for you, its me, my companion Elder Ibarra, and Elders Sanchez and Vega.

2. For goals met this week, well we got 16 new investigators! So that is ok, we actually were only going to let ourselves go contact that village if us and the Saqsuha Elders found those news, so that worked out for us!

3. Something new that I learned this week came from our Leader Meeting today. We talked a lot about repentance, and that is a really good topic. While studying that of course we got on the topic of the Atonement. We were talking about how when Christ was suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane an angel came down to comfort him, and we learned that angel was Adam. Through Adam all men need to be redeemed, and through Christ all men are redeemed, so it was necessary that Adam came down to comfort Christ, because he is the father of all mortality while Christ is the Father of immortality.

4. Interesting food - we ate some fish this week! I am sending a picture. 

We also fritas, which is like really good fried banana. That is the picture of me and my companion with our hands in the bowl, we are mixing the platino with the milk and the flour and stuff. Best of all, we made this with Almicar's family, who made it out to church!

5. In personal studies I have been studying a lot on Christ, and His Atonement. I will just share a quick testimony in Q´eqchi´. Ka´aijwi´ nawaj chixwotz´b´al xnawom inch´ool eerik´ink chirix aj kolol qe li JesuKristo. Nanaw naq a'an yo'yo' ut nokoxra. a'an naxnaw li qu sa' xmaak naq kixk'ul sa'  xb' een chixjunil li qarahilal ut qacha'ajkilal li naqak'ul se' li yuam a'in. Jwal nim inbantioxihom chiru ut nikinra a'an. (I just want to share with you my testimony about our Savior Jesus Christ. I know that He lives and loves and knows us because He received all of the pain and problems that we receive in this life. I am so grateful to Him and I love Him.)

6. Something surprising that happened this week is I got to play saxophone! We were walking by some people and they let me try it. I tried to send a video but it didn't work, maybe I will try later. (Editor's note: the video did come through, I tried to post it separately but it is locked. If Joe is able to send it again next week, unlocked, I will share it then. It was amazing to hear him play again.)

Now I will write my spiritual experience. This week we were walking and we had just finished contacting for a couple hours. We were about an hour away from Teleman so we were starting to head back. Then I felt like we should go visit this Hermana. I didn't really want to say anything because it was getting a little dark and we were far from home and tired. But I told my companion we should go and he said he had the same feeling so we went. When we got there her throat was so sore she could barely talk, and she was crying because she wants to be baptized but her qawachin (boyfriend who she is living with) won't marry her. So we talked her through it and then gave her a blessing. After we finished she said in q'eqchi' "Your medicine is really good!" Me and my companion looked at each other super confused and then she looked up and said "Before you prayed my throat hurt so bad, but during the prayer all the pain left and I feel better, your medicine is good." Me and companion just looked at each other and were like, dope! Priesthood blessings definitely work. Then later we were walking home and it was super late and we walked by this less-active family's house and I felt like we should stop by so I told my companion. He gave me the "it's super late!" look, but I said "just real quick." So we went and when the mom saw us she was like "Elders! My daughter needs a blessing, she has a fever! How did you know to come?" So we were able to give the daughter a blessing and she was better the next day. This church is true, the Spirit is amazing, I don't know what more I can say.

I love all of you, have a good week!

Love, Elder Toolson

ps for Mom - "chatkanaak sa´ aab'ee, ut chaanaw naq laa'in li yos" (be still, and know that I am God)

Monday, March 20, 2017

week 81

(editor's note: I apologize for the crazy, varied fonts - not sure what is going on. The font is set to default, and shows up uniform size and color on the draft, but posts all wonky. Grr.)

Hey! This week was crazy so I am going to try to break it down day by day.

Tuesday- Divisions with Elder Rios-Lazo in Tucuru. Tucuru is like an hour and a half or two hours away from Teleman by bus. We got back late from district meeting, but we still tried to visit this mountain that was far away. It got too dark so we ended up not being able to do anything and had to walk back in the dark and the rain. But Rios-Lazo is a dope guy so it was fun. He put six new fechas this week, all one big family, so we are super happy about that!

Wednesday- More divisions, went back to that mountain. We heard there were some Church members there so we went looking for them and got lost a few times. We were in this little village and we were trying to get to a different village called Calle Vina Rosa and kept taking wrong turns, but we got there eventually! And we found one family so that was good, hopefully they can help the missionaries there find other families. They aren't showing up to church because of how far it is, they have to walk like three or four hours. I am not sure how many members are there, that is what Elder Rios-Lazo is going to go try to help out with. We finally made our way back into town after lots of walking and met up with our companions and had dinner with a family in Tucuru. 

These are from when I was with Rios, just a spot where we decided to take some pics above Tucuru:

Thursday - We made it back to our area and visited our fecha Ronald. He is pilas and we taught him about the Book of Mormon! He works by Canlun. From where we live to Ronald is maybe two or two and a half hours, like half an hour if you can catch a truck. We normally find a ride there and walk back. This is a picture I took by the river leaving Canlun. I don't get to do a lot of trips on p-day, but in most of my areas I walk out my front door and I am doing some sight seeing, so it's all good. This is how the women dress whenever they are going out.

When we got back to our area we got a call that the missionaries in Panzos got jumped and when they ran away they fell down a mountain and we needed to go find them and check up on them. It's a really long weird story, but basically it was just some random guy who asked them to give his daughter a blessing and when they got there she wasn't sick, so he asked them for money. They said no, and he got mad so they ran, one Elder took off and the other one followed him. But the guy was going to catch them and I think he had a machete, they said they think he was drunk, so they jumped off the side of the mountain. One slid and the other pretty much jumped, it is a miracle they are okay to be honest. We went looking for them for awhile and when we found them they were fine, eating in a comedor, just a little shaken and scratched.

Friday- We went to Chulac. It is maybe and hour and a half by bus. (Yay mountains!!!) We needed to do a interview the missionary from Panzos was supposed to do, but couldn't because of what happened. It was nice, the kid is about 12 or 13 and he knew everything he was supposed to know so that makes it easier. He wanted me to baptize him because he was excited I was a gringo haha. Almost everyone asks you to baptize them after you do their interviews, but we always have the missionaries or the members from that area do it. We were with Elder Pablo and Cerezo all day and had a good time, made some pancakes with members and stuff, so we showed up on the right day.  This one of the girls in the house where we made pancakes. A lot of the kids here ask to have their picture taken.

We also visited a guy who hadn't shown up to church for a while. We just shared some scriptures with him and had some caldo afterwards. 

Saturday- Made it back to our area and did the service project all day. It was me and my companion and four other guys from the rama. So I will try to tell you what the house is like. There are no doors or windows, the entry is just a spot where they don't build anything. There are three main posts on each side that hold up the house, and to those they tie three sticks horizontally, then they tie the walls vertically to those three sticks. The walls are made of bunches of sticks that have been tied together. I cleared out the dirt so they could put the stick walls in, then helped tie all the sticks together for the walls. I was wondering how the posts stay in the ground, because I dug out the spot for the posts and it seems like they will just fill with water, but they assured me that it would be ok. This is only the second house I have helped with but from what I have seen most mountain houses are done this way. It is very humble. Most of the missionary housing at least has solar panels for a bit of electricity and running water. Water here is sketchy most of the time so it is never a sure thing, and light as well for that matter, but at least we kind of have it. They have candles mostly, and usually they cook inside over a fire in their little kitchen. Most everyone has a hose or something outside their house for water, but if not they have to go to a river or something.

After that we tried to have English class but no one showed up. 

Sunday- Ronald didn't make it out to church. We are figuring out what we will do with him because it has been a while since he has made it. We don't really know what to do. We always tell him to go, and he is always like, "oh yeah I will make it this time, God first!" and then doesn't show up. He lives all out on his own, so we can't have anyone go pick him up, and I don't think anyone has cars that can make it out there. We did have three investigators show up so that was something. Most of them aren't married to the people they are living with, so that is hard. We have been visiting one of the guys on and off, he comes to church every Sunday, but won't get married. So he isn't making progress. One is married to the President's son, but she doesn't want to listen to us. We are kind of struggling right now, but President of Rama says that they might have a family for us to teach this week. After church we finished the service from the day before, then went to visit a member named Almicar that didn't show up to church. We usually visit him every Saturday, he is awesome. This is a picture of me eating dinner with his family. 

Mario is doing really good! His wife got a calling (position serving in the Church) and he is going to the temple for the first time this week. I wish I could go with him. I think we are going to help him find some family names to take to the temple tomorrow. 

So that was my week! I was only in my area for like two or three full days so it was kind of crazy, but it was good.  I think we are going to stick to our area more this week, I hope so anyways, that was a lot of travel. It has been surprisingly rainy, it is supposed to start warming up soon though. It is about the same as Canlun, but they say this is one of the hottest areas in the Polochic so we will see how well I handle it haha.

My spiritual thought is simple this week. I just know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I felt the Spirit pretty strong when I was sharing with Ronald how I came to have my testimony of the Book of Mormon. Afterwards he said he would read it so I think it will go well. I hope you have a good week, I love you!

Love, Elder Toolson

p.s. here is the internet I write at!

Monday, March 13, 2017

week 80

Hey, this week went pretty alright! We still are having troubles finding those that will progress. We did a lot of contacting, including one of the little villages up the mountains that were accepting us called Doce Aguilas. We started visiting there a few weeks ago and my guess is that the people told the pastors the Mormons came and visited and sang and prayed with them. Well, their pastor told them not to listen to us because "we are liars" and not to let us in anymore. So that is a bummer. Ronald couldn't make it out to church, and because of zone conference we couldn't make it to our Family Home Evening with Mario. The few members we tried to go with were busy so we couldn't get any new referrals. But we will try again this week! 

I think some spiders have a home in our shower but they are little spiders so it is ok. Better than the tarantulas that crawl out of the drains sometimes.

We had one more student in English class so that was nice, they are actually learning kind of fast which is cool. 

For p-day today we taught the Hermanas Kekchi. We do one lesson every p-day and every district meeting, so twice a week. They are having a hard time, but they are doing their best to learn. Other than that, we played some basketball and bought some groceries. We will just write and then maybe get some tortillas de harina.

We did some divisions with the missionaries in Saqsuha last week. I stayed in our area and my companion went to Saqsuha. The Elder who came to work with me is named Elder Vega. He has been out about four months, he is from California. It was interesting because he still knows zero Kekchi so I could help him a bit because I know what he is going through. He did know Spanish already though.  Me and one other guy are the only ones left in the Polochic who had to learn both Spanish and Kekchi in the mission field. Tomorrow we will do divisions with Tucuru. I am excited for this because I am going with one of my buddies. His name is Elder Rios-Lazo, I don't think I have talked about him before. He is from Arizona and one of the District Leaders in my zone. He is going home like three months after me, so he has time out. He came in already knowing Spanish so he was in the Kekchi program in the MTC. His Kekchi is pretty crazy good. Besides that, this week we have two district meetings and we are going to help a member finish building his house. We will be tying the sticks together to make the walls I think, and then he will top that with a corrugated metal roof. So that should be fun!

For the Zone Conference, me and my companion mostly just talked about obedience in general. I used that story about the three guys applying for a job driving a truck through the mountains, do you remember it? The one guy says he can drive so close to the cliff, he can be right on the edge without falling off. The next one says he can drive with half a wheel off the cliff, and still not fall off the road. The last guy says he doesn't know how close he can get to the edge because he always stays as far away from the cliff as he can. Of course, he gets the job. Basically, the lesson is how we should just stay as far away from temptation as we can so that we won't have to experiment with problems. 

My interview was nice and short. President Faundez asked how I have enjoyed my mission. I said it is awesome. Then he asked how I have enjoyed finishing my mission. So there it is haha, no matter how hard I have tried to convince myself that it isn't coming to an end, my President tells me it is. But he told me I have about 3 or 4 months to become the best person/missionary I can be, so I told him I would do it. He didn't ask me where I want to finish, so I am just going to do what the Lord wants. I decided, if He wants me to end here, dope! If not, then goodbye Polochic. I will be bummed but I know it is whatever Heavenly Father wants. I learned from our Mission President that Heavenly Father has literally everything, except our will. He lets us choose. So if we choose to do what He wants, then we have given ourselves up entirely to Him. I think that is when we really can start to progress.

My spiritual thought this week is just to express that we are never alone. As you can tell, this wasn't one of the most successful weeks of my mission. But all week I never got too down on myself or anything, which in its own way is a miracle and a testimony that God will always help us if we are willing to ask. I love all of you, have a good week!

Love, Elder Toolson

Monday, March 6, 2017

week 79

Hey! Things here this week were kind of slow. We did a lot of contacting, and then my companion got sick, and then he got me sick, so we did our best to work for as long as we could. I feel better but my companion seems to be struggling. Don't worry though, it is just the crummy cold kind of stuff, its nothing too bad. But it has been a little frustrating because of the lack of progress here. We did a fast this last week so I think that things should start looking up. We are going to visit some of the members and read some scriptures about sharing the gospel, then ask them to pray about three people who they could talk to, then we will go with them to visit them.

Mario's family seems like they are doing a lot better, we have another noche de hogar (home evening) with them this Tuesday. 

The best lesson this week was with Hermano Ronald because we were able to firm up his fecha (baptism date). But he hasn't been able to make it out to church which is a bummer. When we visit him this week we will probably have to go over the importance of church attendance again. We also started English classes this week, this picture is of our students:

The Hermanas are doing good and are really nice and work hard so I think they might actually be less of a problem than the Elders haha. 

So last week I said bye to Elder Bos, it was the worst, I broke pretty hard and cried haha, but he emailed me today and he looks happy so that is good. 

So now I will answer your questions. Dad asked what our average Sacrament meeting attendance is - between 70 to 90, so that is pretty good for a rama (branch). Mom asked how I was eating. The best thing was probably a tortilla de harina (flour tortilla), there is a lady that makes some dope ones, when we come visit we will get some. The worst was this q´em ha´ that still had dough chunks so it was nasty. I have some more pictures for you from my area.

We played some soccer for p-day and bought our groceries and now we will just be in our area the rest of the day. Tonight we will work on our lesson for the Zone Conference that is tomorrow. The Mission President, his wife and Assistants will come to us. Me and my companion get to talk for forty minutes about "locking our hearts." So uh, we will see how that goes. I think we are supposed to focus mostly on locking our hearts to girls, or guys for the Hermanas. They sent us a talk about it that deals mostly with flirting and that sort of thing. I think we are going to talk about it a little bit, and then maybe relate it more to obedience and being overall more focused in the work. Because pretty much all there is to say about that is "don't flirt in the mission because it is dumb." We will have interviews tomorrow too, so that is always fun. We meet with Sister and President Faundez separately. She asks about the family and how things are going with our companions, makes sure we are eating okay, and keeps us in line about our clothes, ties, shoes and hair. President's interviews are really short unless you have something specific to talk to him about. 

Well, I think you might be getting tired of hearing about this spiritual thought, but I never get tired of talking about the Atonement so I will go again. This last week we had zone meeting and the Hermanas did an example of the Atonement where one person is doing push ups, and for every certain number of push ups they do the other people get a chocolate. They asked me to do the push ups. At first I thought that I would just pick a number that I wouldn't feel too embarrassed about, but then while I was doing it and reached the number I looked around and saw that not everybody had the same amount. So I felt like I should keep going, and then I got to the point where I couldn't do any more so my arms gave out. But I saw that it was still uneven, and I just felt like I should try again so I did a few more, and then gave out. And that happened a few more times before I was maxed out. And I just imagined how Christ felt, because push ups are absolutely nothing compared to what He did. I'm sure that He wanted to quit as soon as He started, but He knew He had to pay for EVERYONE'S sins, He couldn't just suffer for some of us, He had to suffer for all of us. I am really grateful that He didn't give up and kept going. I love my Savior and it was just a really powerful experience in a tiny minuscule way to see a little bit of how He felt for us. 

Have a good week! I love you!

Love, Elder Toolson