Monday, June 26, 2017

week 95

Hey! We had a pretty decent week this week, we got our couple all prepared for baptism and marriage. It looks like they will be married on Wednesday and baptized on Saturday if everything goes smoothly. The baptism will be in a river if we can find one with enough water, if not we will do it in Coban at the pila (baptismal font.)

Everyone from Lomas made it out to church and we hit an all time high of 40 in attendance which is pretty good! We have a Relief Society president and then like 4 or 5 members who will give talks for us so that isn't too bad. They do a good job of dividing up the limpieza (maintenance.) The members would like to have a branch, but I think the problem is sacerdocio (Priesthood holders) right now. I don't know how much is needed, but they have like five men that are worthy Aaronic Priesthood holders and I don't know if they have any Melchizedek. The problem is they want their own group in Lomas, and most of our sacerdocio is in Lomas, so if they divide then we are in trouble.

Everything is good with my companion, we get along real well and stuff. This week will be nice and busy, we will visit Pedro and Maria tomorrow to go over marriage details, Wednesday we will be here in Coban again to get them married, Thursday is our day to find all of our new investigators for the week, Friday we will be in Lomas, Saturday is the baptism, Sunday is my last day in Chisec so it will be spent saying goodbyes and packing, Monday is my last interview and Family Home Evening with President Faundez, Tuesday I go to the capital, and Wednesday...well you already know haha. So I will be nice and busy until I get home which is good! 

I will do my best to answer your questions now.

1. I hopefully have improved on a lot of spiritual things, but one thing that jumps out to me is I have a very strong testimony about fasting and prayer now. Every time I have done a fast for success or a miracle or anything, it has been answered within a few days.
2. A physical strength that has improved on my mission ...let's see. The first thing I was going to say was bowel control haha but I don't think that's exactly what you are looking for. I think I have gotten at least a little better at just kind of buckling down and doing something even when I really don't want to, cause that's what a lot of the mission is.
3. Something that I feel confident about now is sharing the gospel with anyone. Before I was pretty nervous but now I definitely have no problem talking about the church and stuff (at least in Q'eqchi'.)
4. For something I wish I could do over, I don't know if there is one specific thing, but I know there have been days in my mission where maybe I could have worked harder, or been more obedient, or a better person, so I wish I could go back and do that better.
5. Something I feel really good about is my relationship with our Savior. I have never had such confidence in Him or felt Him so close.
6. A time I felt very sad that jumps out is when Mario's family in Teleman was going through such a rough patch, and there have been many other times with other investigators or members in a similar situation.
7. A time on my mission when I felt overwhelmingly happy is probably just anytime that I have been able to be in the baptismal pila with someone, there is no other feeling like that in the world.
8. A time I have felt scared, let's see. Probably like 90% of my mission haha, but one time that jumps out is in my first few weeks in Canlun when that guy asked us to go pray at his dying dad's house. I was really inexperienced in Q'eqchi' so I had no clue what to expect.
9. Um, a time my heart felt full of love... oh! One time I remember is when I was on divisions in Se'ritk'iche and these Nazerenos were bashing on us. They said we were only on missions for ourselves and all this poop. I started off really angrily explaining about leaving our homes and families and stuff, but then out of the blue I just felt a lot of love for those people and told them that really we are here because we love them. 
10. For what I will miss the most, I will definitely miss the people more than anything, they are part of my family now.
11. Foods I will miss, I think my favorite thing they make here you can do in the states as well. It is just eggs, beans, fried platanos and tortillas. Also the Isomax juice, I drink it every day. And I hope I get one more caldo before I go home, I could probably ask mama Lila to make us one.
12. Lets see, the thing I'm most excited for about coming home other than seeing football! I can't wait to get home and watch some good college football and NFL as well!

I don't even feel like coming home is real to be honest. I think I am more nervous and sad to go home than I was to leave it. I don't know if that's good thing.

Right now we are just in Coban, we came down to get the marriage papers, so it is a good day. We will probably just write then head back to our area, it is a pretty tranquilo day today. Oh and some news, I weighed myself today and I am down to 165! I don't think I have been this light since my sophomore year.

Lets see, a quick spiritual experience from this week is from our visit to Lomas. When we were there the old man, the grandpa of the family, started asking me about temple work. He is one of the first members from Lomas and he is amazing. He is like super old, but even if there isn't a truck to go to church on Sundays he will get up at 4 to make the walk if he has to. When we were talking he started crying and explained that his brother had never known the gospel and died recently and he wanted to do his work. And the Spirit was so strong and the Lord helped me be able to explain to him that he would see his brother again, and he could do his temple work and his brother would have an opportunity to receive the gospel as well. 
I love you!
Love, Elder Toolson
malaj ut laj Toolok

Monday, June 19, 2017

week 94

Hey! We had a better week this week. We were able to find that member and talk to him and he showed up to church and brought everyone from Lomas. So the church attendance was a little higher this week which was nice. The two fechas (people with scheduled baptisms) were the only ones that didn't come. They don't seem super interested now so that is a bummer. 

Our Zone Leaders ended up not coming but that was ok. I don't really miss being a ZL, but I feel like with being Group Leader I have almost more responsibility so I guess in a way I kind of miss it haha. It's nothing crazy, just with coordinating with the hermana (sister/female ward member) who is in charge of limpieza (cleaning and building maintenance), trying to get Lomas to church, and looking for people to give talks, I've realized I would not be a good Bishop.

Zone Conference was good. I kind of had all planned out what I was going to say in my testimony, then I got up there and my mind went blank so I just kind of stumbled through some lines in Spanish and Q'eqchi'. It wasn't quite as memorable as I was hoping but thankfully I still have my last district meeting and Family Home Evening with President and my group to make up for it. 

My interview went well, in the conference we talked about the Atonement so he asked me what I thought of the activity they did. It was the activity where one person has to do push ups so every one else can have a treat that we did a couple months ago in our other zone. I didn't have to do the push ups this time, Elder Castro did. It was worse watching than doing. Next he asked me how my relationship with Christ is, then he told me to think about home a lot over the next two weeks but keep working. My goals are to work hard, and either baptize that couple or get them as prepared as I possibly can so that the next missionaries that come here can do it. Then told me he loved me and that the Lord was happy with me. So I was in there like two minutes and it was good! 

To answer mom's questions about Chisec, the best thing and worst thing is the members. It's like the active ones are super dope and pilas, and then the not-so-active ones are really frustrating because they are like "oh yeah! I will go to church this week" and then don't go. So you visit them again and they say "oh...I couldn't...but next week for sure!" and then don't go again. My best memory here is not really a specific memory, I just have those two families I told you about that I am pretty close to, so I will always remember them. And they are probably going to be the hardest thing to leave behind. What I will be pretty excited to leave behind is the drunk people here, there are ALWAYS drunk people. 

A typical day now is wake up at 5:30 and work out until like 7, Monday is chest and triceps and core, Tuesday is back and bicep and core, Wednesday is shoulders and if I feel adventurous I do a little bit of legs and core. Then study until like 11, which is reading the Bible in Q'eqchi', the Book of Mormon in the three languages, two or three chapters of Jesus the Christ, and then trying to help my companion with the language. Then we go eat lunch with a member and go work till like 8 or 9. Then we get ready for bed, sleep, and repeat. I am just in my area today, I am on splits with Elder Nielsen. I've told you about him before, he started his mission in the Polochic and we did a couple of divisions there, now he is in my district. He is from Utah and has about nine months out. He is my buddy. Our companions wanted to go to Coban and we didn't. I am trying to save money because I think I am starting to run low and there is a tiny chance we might pay for a wedding haha.

Here are some pictures from this week. I am still wearing wide ties! I'm going to wear one home and give the rest out to missionaries. My belt broke!

At Zone Conference with Elder Vega (my companion), Elder Nielsen and Elder Pin (a dope guy in the office who was in the Polochic.)

This is Elder Castro, he came into the mission at the same time as me. 

After conference with Elder Vega and Elder Pin.

My spiritual thought this week comes from another miracle, which is always nice. This week I did a fast for success in the district and for help to keep me working my last couple weeks because after that poopy week last week I didn't really want to do much. Then like two days after my fast ended, I got a call from the ZLs saying that two of their fechas moved in to Chisec, they just need to get married and baptized. I called the fecha and he said we could visit him on Tuesday. So I am super excited for that cita (appointment.) It was just a big testimony to see that the Lord is watching out for me. It isn't super probable that I will be here to see their wedding and baptism because I don't know what their situation is with their papers and how prepared they are, but just the fact that the Lord sent us somebody to teach here these last two weeks is good enough to know that He watches out for us. 

"Jo'kan ut, tento a teetiikisi eerib' chi ub'ej chi xaqxookex junelik rik'in li Kristo, rik'in tz'aqal xlemtz'unkil lib yo'onink, ut rik'in c rahok choq' re li Dios ut reheb' chixjunil li winq. Jo'kan ut, wi teetiikisi eerib' chi ub'ej rik'in xtzekankil xsahil li raatin li Kristo, ut d texkuyuq toj sa' roso'jik, k'ehomaq reetal, jo'ka'in naxye li Yuwa'b'ej: Taawanq eeyu'am chi junelik. ("Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of 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." - 2 Nephi 31:20)

I love you!
Love, Elder Toolson


Monday, June 12, 2017

week 93

Hey! Things here were actually pretty tough this week. This member from Lomas keeps getting drunk, and he happens to be the member with the truck to take everybody to church, so because he gets drunk, nobody from there comes to church. Also because he gets drunk, both our fechas decided they didn't want to get baptized which was a bummer. We feel like if we can talk to him things will get better but he is never around when we show up. I'm just trying to figure out what to tell him. I want to explain to him how blessed he is to have his truck and that God has trusted him and needs him. Hopefully it will reach him somehow. Our Zone Leaders are coming over Thursday to go visit there with us, so hopefully they can help us out.  And then the couple we are trying to get married won't come to church and said they don't want to get married. It is just hard to see stuff fall through so close to going home, because now I don't think they will get to church enough times for me to see them baptized. So overall not the most successful week of my mission! With everything falling apart I feel like I have to at least try to fix things so it is not a disaster when the next missionary shows up. But it is ok, if I have learned one thing in my mission it is that sometimes we've just got to put it in the Lord's hands and He will take care of it, all we can do is our best. On the bright side the other missionaries here in Chisec have a girl named Lesly who is progressing really well, and we help them teach her sometimes so that is something to look forward to every week. 

I am starting to feel settled here and getting to know some people. One family we are close to is with a Hermana we call mama Lila because she makes us lunch every day and does our laundry and everything. Then there is another family we visit every Sunday, the mom's name is Hermana Suzena. She has a two daughters, Bradie and Suly, and a son named Leo. She was the first member in Chisec. I think she was baptized in Coban, and then she moved here and wanted the Church here so she got President Curtiss to send some missionaries in. Their family has a lot of problems, she just has a hard past and not a lot of money and all sorts of stuff, but she is awesome. We always try to visit them to show a video or a scripture or something. One goal I have before I leave is to strengthen the few members that are here. 

I am also really trying to help my companion. He's had some companions who weren't really motivated to work hard or learn the language, so I am seeing what I can do for him. He already has improved a lot! I'm hoping by the time I go home he will be ready to train if he has to. The missionaries in this district need help because of how tough the area is, so I am doing my best. But it is a good thing the Lord helps us out, because I have no clue what I am doing sometimes. 

This week definitely got me a little more excited to go home. We have Zone Conference on Wednesday and I will give my final testimony, which is weird. I won't really know anybody besides my companion and the other two guys in our district, my buddies from the Polochic are in a different zone. We will go to Coban and the Mission President will be there. That will be my last regular interview, then I will have my go-home interview here in a few weeks. My buddies all said they are going to travel down that last p-day to say goodbye to me so I feel loved haha. I am getting pretty nervous. I actually have been having a hard time sleeping because I keep having weird dreams about going home and then I wake up at like 2 or 3 and have a hard time falling back asleep. I feel like my life before the mission was a dream to be honest and I have been a missionary my whole life. The weirdest thing to think about is that I only have three emails left, maybe two if I don't email my last p-day. Oh also I am bummed because I guess that the temple will be closed when I am in the capital so I won't get to go there. I think Tuesday after all the new missionaries get here we go to the capital, then sleep in a hotel or motel or something, then leave early Wednesday. I just don't know what we are going to do the whole day on Tuesday now. I think there are some buildings we can go see, I just don't know how much time we will have. But I'm excited to eat some Wendy's because I hear there is one in the capital. I could spend all afternoon there and be happy! I imagine me and Elder Barney will stick together. He will probably be my companion until we part ways in the airport in LA. 

For our District meeting this week I talked about faith. I used Nephi as an example because of all the times he talks about doing things without knowing why and just trusting in the Lord. I mainly used 1 Nephi 4: 6-7 "And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do. Nevertheless I went forth..." and 1 Nephi 9:5 "Wherefore, the Lord hath commanded me to make these plates for a wise purpose in him, which purpose I know not."

The Ward Conference went well, we got like 15 members there so that was good. They really only talked about how parents can strengthen their youth and manage their use of technology, so not much applied to me, but it was still good! 

We are having a relaxing p-day in our area today which is nice because it gives me time to type up my goals. Whenever missionaries here go home we have to turn in a letter with at least three spiritual experiences from the mission, three spiritual and temporal goals for five years/ ten years, five positive attributes and five negative we see in ourselves, then five attributes you want in your future spouse and five attributes you will bring to your marriage. And President Faundez wants them in pretty early, it is stressful! For spiritual experiences I have five. The first is a baptism in my first area, not my first baptism because that was Rudy, the little boy. The second one is the one I will talk about, with Eguanio. That was when me and Elder Helton had like nothing going for us so we did a fast and prayer, and then one night a member knocked on our door and was like "this is Eguanio and he wants to be baptized," and we got to baptize him like three weeks later. The second is learning the languages and having the Lord's help with that. The third is Mario, just all of the changes that I saw him go through that he couldn't have made without the Savior. The fourth is the dope Priesthood blessing we gave to that lady in Teleman, the one who had the really sore throat. It was awesome to see the Lord heal her so quickly. The fifth is completing our goal when me and Elder Ibarra opened the new Zone. We definitely couldn't have done that without the Lord's help! Some of my personal goals for the future are to get married in the temple, continue to study and pray daily, attend the temple once a month throughout my life, work out at least four times a week, graduate from college... just normal stuff like that. 

My spiritual thought this week comes on faith. Obviously this hasn't been my favorite week of the mission, especially since I was kind of looking forward to some success at the end and it looks a little bleak. But I know that the Lord's thoughts are not mine and He has a plan. Maybe I don't understand it, but that's ok, I know things will work out here in the end. Heavenly Father knows exactly what we need to give us our best experience here on earth. 

I love all of you!
Love, Elder Toolson

Monday, June 5, 2017

week 92

Hey! So the big news is I ended up translating a little bit! I sat up front just a few seats away from Elder Renlund talking into a microphone. Whenever anybody talked in Q'eqchi' I changed it to English for Elder Renlund, his wife, Elder Duncan (area 70), his wife, and the Temple President and his wife. Elder Nelson did the translating from English to Q'eqchi', including Elder Renlund's talk. It was a bummer because the microphone we used had static and stuff so I think they were a little frustrated. Also I kept saying words in Spanish and Q'eqchi' so I'm sure they didn't appreciate that. But I got to give him a handshake at the end. It was really cool. Also, you could feel a change in the room when he entered. He told me "good job" so that was pretty dang awesome. To make Senahu a Stake they pretty much just announced that it was a Stake and who the new Presidency was, so it was kind of like a Stake Conference. I knew everyone that was sustained in the new Stake Presidency so that was cool. They also changed two ramas from Senahu, two ramas from Seamay, and two ramas from Yalijux into wards. Elder Renlund did end up leaving an Apostolic blessing which was pretty cool to hear. The only interaction the missionaries had was to shake his hand at the end, he got in and out pretty quick so I think he was pretty busy. I don't have any pictures because they were very strict about that. I know there were quite a few members there from all over the Polochic, and a lot of people came from the capital and stuff, so people traveled pretty far to see him. The building was completely full and that is saying something because it is a massive church and they filled the upstairs and downstairs part of it. I saw all of my buddies from the Polochic and they ran up and gave me a big group hug. It is so weird to think that it is coming to an end, it is pretty sad. Four more p-days. That's what my district tells me every day, how many p-days I have left because p-days come so quick. I'm just doing my best to work hard until the end.

We left for Senahu Friday morning. My companion was with me the whole time so he didn't have to do anything different. The first night in Senahu I stayed at the missionaries house, that was the worst.  We didn't sleep at my old house, we slept with the other missionaries that serve in Se'amay because they are like a five minute walk from Senahu. There was no place to sleep, I put four wooden planks on the floor and curled up on that for the night. Then me and Nelson got a hotel room that was also pretty bad but I had a bed.

It is hard to think what else I did because that was obviously the biggest thing I did this week. Elder Renlund was in interviews all day Saturday so we didn't see him until Sunday but it was good. On Saturday I got to go visit some old members and converts with Elder Nelson so that part was really awesome. It was awesome to be back in my old area. There was one family I surprised visited, Ceasers family that we used to do a noche de hogar with every week, and they started crying when they saw me so it felt good. Other than that I didn't really get to see any other members other than a quick hello, but I was glad they remembered me! I also found out some of my converts, Herylinda and Anjel, are getting ready to get sealed in the Temple toward the end of August so that is awesome as well. I did get to see Gordy and I got my birthday package so thank you very much! It was awesome!  

Other than that it was a pretty normal week. At district conference I just talked about Your Four Minutes by Gary E. Stevenson a bit, and making sure we are working hard and always studying Q'eqchi' because the people here deserve to hear the gospel in their language. My companion is coming along slowly but surely, he is working hard at it though. We get along good. We haven't really had any problems yet, we are both pretty relaxed guys so I don't see us ever having a problem. We put two fechas with some Q'eqchi' speaking investigators in a village we visit once or twice a week, it is a place called Lomas. The people there have to come to church with our group in Chisec, which is maybe an hour or an hour and a half by car, walking it is pretty darn far. One of the members has a pick up to take everyone, but when we go we take a bus to a cruze... I can't remember how to say that in English... and then we start walking and hope we find a pick up. If not, it is like a two hour walk just to the cruze. It is dope because there are members there and so they help us a bit, but they haven't made it out for the last two weeks which is a bummer. I am doing my best, I was excited when we put the fechas because I was worried I wouldn't have anything going for me my last few weeks because I know Chisec hasn't been known to baptize for like a couple months now. But even if I don't see these people baptized I know they will be one day so it is nice to get to work with them. The little girl I told you about, Santa, said no to a baptismal date still, and didn't come to we are still figuring out what to do with her.

It is boiling hot here in the mornings and then around 4 or 5 it starts storming super hard. There is thunder and the rain is crazy, there have been trees that have fallen on houses and stuff. We try to work through it, but normally end up hiding out in whatever house we are in at the time if I am being honest. The storms come and go for maybe two or three hours, so when there is a break we usually run to our next appointment haha. Food here is cereal in the morning and lunch with a member and sometimes no dinner, but if we get too hungry we go to the same member and cook our food there.

This week we need to visit Lomas to figure out why they aren't coming to church, and then I will probably try to firm up the fechas we have. They seem to have a lot of problems understanding doctrine, that's why I'm not sure if I will get to see them baptized. We also have Ward Conference which should be good. So we need to figure out transportation for all the members. Our group in Chisec belongs to a Ward in Coban so we will go there for that. Since we are a group, we can't be our own independent little place, we belong to the Ward in Coban. Every few weeks a member of the Bishopric comes and checks on us. I have yet to see him. 

We traveled back to Coban last night so we will be here for p-day and then tonight go back to our area. I have a few pictures for you this week. The first one is Elder Nelson, who translated with me:

This is my buddy, Elder Zavala:

And a picture of my area...

My spiritual thought this week comes from the power of prayer and fasting. Naq maji xqajaltesi iru li raatin li Apostol, xqakuy li qasa' ut xootijok re xtz'aamankil chiru li yos li qatenq'ankil, ut xooruuk chi reek'ankil li santil musiq'ej, ut xinxtenq'a chi aatinak chi us. (Rough translation, not sure how this matches up: This week Elder Nelson and I did a fast that we would be able to communicate everything we would need to, and a prayer right before the meeting. We could totally feel the Spirit helping us remember the stuff we learned so it was pretty awesome.)

Love, Elder Toolson