Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Day Call

We just got off the phone with Elder Tonini.  We kicked the call off by telling him that we had received an email from his mission president asking us that we revalidate his knowledge of the family before he could have his Christmas call.  (Of course, we had received no such letter).  Raena made up some cards (think "The Newlywed Game) asking questions ranging from Corina's age to Jacob's positions on the baseball diamond.  The last card asked, where is the Tonini family moving this summer?  His first question was, "which Tonini family?"  He took the news much better than we expected.  

He caught us up on what has been going on.  He got pulled over a few days ago (by a BICYCLE COP) for making an illegal left-hand turn.  Fortunately he still has his Texas driver's license so the policeman believed him when he said he hadn't been in Moreno Valley for very long.

He enjoys having Brother and Sister Baugh in his ward.  Drew's Grandpa Tonini had been the Baugh's bishop when we lived in the Fairfax Ward and Brother Baugh was my (and Uncle Geoff's) scoutmaster.  Drew loves to hear them talk about his grandparents and the respect that they have for them.  He was over at their house the other day and Sister Baugh accidently called Drew "Geoff."  The expression on Drew's face when he told the story was priceless.

Talking to your missionary son at Christmas and Mother's Day is a two-edge sword.  You love to see and hear them but you also realize how much you miss them.  Fortunately, we know that he is on the Lord's errand and that makes the separation (a little) easier.

Monday, December 17, 2012

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email: December 17, 2012

I am glad that you are enjoying your new job! You seem to have adjusted very well to it. I love that you love giving back to the community. All Christ did was serve, that is a wonderful way to feel how the Savior felt! And thank you for the Texas blanket! I love it, it is my new favorite! We gave everyone Power Ranger names in the zone and I got the name Texas Ranger. It sure fits, huh? :)

Thank you for not forgetting about me and putting up my stocking! I do feel like I am forgotten sometimes... I do feel a little homesick during the holidays but I have been in fantastic wards that help me feel at home. We ate at the B***'s last night and I felt like I was at home with Grandma and Grandpa Tonini. Sister B**** reminds me SO MUCH of Grandma! She spilled something and said "by golly" and I about lost it laughing! It reminded me so much of Grandma. I loved being at their house. They both gave me big hugs when I left and they even call me part of the family. They both talked so much about Grandpa and Grandma. It made me miss Grandpa a lot... But I know partially why I came to Valley View ward: it was to see the B**** family. There is such a special spirit there and it honestly feels like I have grandparents again that I can turn to.

My week has been a busy one. We played basketball on Monday with the zone and that was good times. I am not much of a basketball player but I did make some good shots so that was promising. We are playing basketball against another zone today so I am REALLY looking forward to that. It has actually rained quite a bit here in MoVal! When it rains, it floods because California is ridiculous and not know how to drain their streets. So we had fun driving through the puddles in the truck :).

We taught quite a few lesson this week and have seen some awesome progress! Our big lesson on Tuesday was Ken and he is a Wicken. Elder Chambers actually taught him when he was here in the ward! He stopped investigating but one day called us up and wanted us to come back and teach him. We have answered all of his questions and has actually said that our beliefs line up very closely to what he believes. We don't know if he went to church or not but hopefully we can put him on date for later this month or early next month.

The craziest lesson we had was when we went back to this return appointment that we got while Harvesting. It was actually a girl that Chambers had taught a year ago. She lives with her sister and we came back to visit her and got into a HUGE discussion of very weird things. The worst part was... they were both attractive. Oh boy... However, it turned out very interesting. Their beliefs were off the wall! They believe in Christianity/Hinduism/Buddhism/Scientology but they attend a Christian church. We were there for over an hour, answering quite personal questions and STUPID "what-if" questions. The Spirit was NOT there and it was very noticeable that it wasn't. Needless to say, we got out of there as fast as we could but we did NOT feel good there. So we will see what will happen with them.

We got a new investigator on Friday from a member in our ward. He is a chiropractor and one of his clients has been investigating the church but has had some real issues with her ward where she lives in Orange County. So she wants to take the lessons here with Doc and with us. She is a fantastic woman, looking for the truth. Her real only issue is that she is VERY sensitive so we have to tread carefully not to offend her. Otherwise, we will lose her trust in us. But she has awesome fellowship with Doctor C***** and us. We taught her about the true meaning of the Atonement and Christ's sacrifice for us. The true meaning of Charity is sacrifice and that was what we taught her and help her apply to her life. On top of having a good lesson, Doc gave me an adjustment and I have been feeling better! I get a free adjustment every time I go over there :) and it is fantastic! I left feeling spiritually uplifted and physically uplifted!

Our baptism that we were going to have got pushed back to Saturday. We are actually having TWO baptisms on Saturday! That will be a first for me on my mission, baptizing two individual people on the same day. Our investigators are progressing well and it is exciting to see them go through that process. Nelly, one of our eternal investigators, said last night that she is going to give us a final decision if she is going to be baptized. She has been reading and praying, seeing the good change that is happening to her. She had something happen to her on Saturday that was a huge wake up call to her so hopefully that was the change for her. We don't know what exactly happened but it was big enough to knock her on her knees and want to change. So there will be some fasting this week for her so she will get her answer!

Other than that, things are going well. I still struggle with a few things but I am learning how to cope with it and to not let it affect me. The holidays will be hard for me but don't worry, I will focus on other things rather that those issues. I have a new found love for Christmas because the true reason has so much for meaning to me. I love this time of year because Christ the reason for the season! I love y'all and miss everyone dearly. Have a wonderful Christmas and send all of our family my love!

Elder Andrew B. Tonini

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

email: Dec 11, 2012

Subject: It is beginning to look a lot like CHRISTMAS!

Mom and Dad,

Sorry that I am emailing on Tuesday instead of yesterday. The computers were down so we couldn't email yesterday... I heard from the kids that Grandma Hartfield passed away. I am glad that she liked reading my letters and see how I was doing. She was basically my grandmother away from my real ones. But you are right, she is now with her eternal companion again and she will be doing the same work that I am doing here on the Earth. The Plan of Salvation is such a wonderful thing! I love it with all my heart. That is one of my favorite lessons to teach because it answers so many questions that people have.

I am glad that Mom is enjoying her new job. Serving people is the best thing to do! I did a lot of service for people in Beaumont but now I get to serve other missionaries as well that I have stewardship over! I have come to realize WHY I want a family of my own so badly. I like the responsibility of being entrusted of the Lord to take care of people. I have always wanted a family but I could never pinpoint WHY exactly I wanted one. This calling as Zone Leader has now opened my eyes to how special it is to have the responsibility.

This week has a good one. We have taught a lot of people and have given a lot of blessings. I love giving service to other missionaries. We have Sisters in our zone and last week they got a flat tire at 9 pm one night. They called us and we came and changed the tire for them. Even though that is a small act, it makes me feel good knowing that I could do something for someone else. The true meaning of charity is sacrifice. Sacrificing your pleasures to serve someone is exactly what the Savior did. It is an honor to be His missionaries.

We had our Christmas party this weekend and that was a good time with the ward. We had smoked tri-tip and chicken! Super good. Also, one of our investigators/ part member family told us that he wants to be baptized. SO we are going to have a baptism this weekend! Plus we have found more people and have taught a lot more too. The field is white, already to harvest and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with all his might shall NOT perish but bring salvation unto his soul! That is exactly what we are doing, working in the field for the Lord!

One thing that I am so grateful for in going to California is the scriptural knowledge that I have gotten while studying the scriptures. There is a family that we gave a blessing to and invited to baptism that we went back to see. We talked with the husband for almost an hour on his porch, answering questions about our doctrine. A year ago, I couldn't answer those questions but now I can. The gospel HAS been restored to its fullest! We are still going to go back and teach his family so hopefully good things will come of it. Have you wondered why it is so important that Christ was baptized in the river Jordan? Yes, He was baptized to fulfill all righteousness but there is a deeper meaning to it. Christ walked 60 miles to get to John the Baptist. SIXTY MILES! he could have gone to Jerusalem or Jericho where there were priest there that could have baptized Him but no, He went to John because he had the AUTHORITY. The physical location in where He was baptized was significant as well. The river Jordan empties into the Dead Sea, which is the lowest place on Earth at -1,302ft below sea level. Christ was baptized in the river Jordan, near the mouth of the Dead Sea. Nephi teaches us that Christ will descend below all things (1 Nephi 11:26-27). He LITERALLY did that. He went below the lowest place on earth and ROSE above it! The gospel is SO deep that is can keep scholars learning for ages but it is as simple for a primary child to understand. I LOVE IT!

Anyways, things are going well here in Valley View. I have talked to Brother Baugh and he is going to get in touch with Dad hopefully soon. I am going to get Grandma Tonini's address to him; he was asking for it. Our zone is doing well, things are starting to look up again. Elder Spencer and I are working as hard as we can. We actually got to go to the temple on Friday. I love the temple, especially when I am struggling with things. That is a place where I can turn everything over to the Lord and He can be my strength. I love this time of year and the spirit that it brings. Christmas is a wonderful time of year. Let's make this Christmas a wonderful one and remember the true meaning of it! I love you all and cannot wait to see you on Christmas! Love you all and talk to y'all soon!

Elder Tonini

Monday, December 3, 2012

email: December 3, 2012

My dearest Mother,

I am so glad that Grandma Tonini got to spend some time there with y'all! She was really excited to be there with everyone. Sounds like things are going well for the family! I am super excited for everyone getting their mission call! I was super excited about Adrian going! I love that kid and miss him so much. And my Cole is going too! That is such awesome news. When you talk to them, give them my address and we will write. I am glad that the radio show worked! It was really an awesome experience, I went out with a bang! And now I am rockin' it in MoVal!

I love my new area! I get a 4x4 truck, and awesome companion and an even better ward. Elder Spencer is my companion and he is actually from Payson, Utah! [Editor's note: Elder Tonini was born in Payson.] We get along very well (at least I feel like it) and work hard together. I got to talk to Patriarch Baugh on Sunday! [Patriarch Baugh was Elder Tonini's dad's Scoutmaster.] I bore my testimony and afterwards he came up and gave me a huge hug. He had told me that he had been asking around, trying to find where I was and now I am in his ward! I am actually in Elder Chamber's old ward so that has been awesome as well. I live with another set of Elders so I am back in a four-man. I love it there, our apartment is actually really nice! I live with a Samoan; he is so much fun! He is one of my good friends now. It has been a blessing to be in this area already. My zone is fantastic. We are a small zone but we had the most baptisms last month! That goes to show how good this city is and the missionaries here as well. We live on the bottom floor so now I can do squats and other legs workouts! I did legs this morning and it about killed me. Plus, we are playing baseball this afternoon as a zone so it will be good!

This week was mainly filled with a lot of teaching and for me to get to know that area. Since we are talking soon on Skype, I will save the good stories to tell you in person :). This new way of tracting, we now call it harvesting, it super amazing! We have seen the Spirit work in ways that I have never seen it or felt it work like that. We really are finding the elect now and it was wayyyyy better than the old way. Our mission goal is to have 1,000 convert baptisms and we are a little over 800 so we will see if we can do it. We have faith that this new harvesting will double our monthly baptism count! It was awesome, President was truly inspired to implement this idea into the mission. Things are going well here and I love my new responsibility. I have come to realize why I want to be a father and a husband so bad. I actually LIKE the responsibility; it helps me to stay focused and I love seeing other people progress from me helping them. This mission has truly been a blessing to me. I cannot believe that it is almost half way over...

Some housekeeping things: I don't need a new camera. I got a super nice Canon PowerShot from a member so I am good there. I would love some more athletic clothes, like some Nike Dri-Fit shirts and some shorts too. And some Nike Elite socks would be LEGIT too! I would also LOVE a Rangers New Era hat! Jake knows what hat I like. I can't remember my hat size... Look on my old Tampa Bay hat and see what size it is. I think if you went one size higher that it would be good! I would also LOVE for you to send me my Oakley sunglasses as now I am in car. I "need" them for when I drive! And some new ear socks (black or red ones) would be awesome for them as well. And if all else fails, cash would be awesome too! If no one can think of anything, money is a good thing for me :). And I got golf clubs from Robert's grandfather! I golfed a few times on Preparation Day! I plan on sending them home before the end of my mission anyways. I didn't pay a dime for them anyways!

Well, things are going well here. I still have my little struggles but I am turning them over to the Lord. I love and miss you all. Keep me updated and I will talk to you soon! LOVE YOU!

The Texan in Cali,

Elder Tonini

Friday, November 30, 2012

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

email: November 27, 2012

Momma and Daddio,

Sorry it has taken me an extra day to get an email off to you. Monday was NUTS for me. I was so shocked when I got the call that I am going to be a zone leader! I had mixed emotions about it but I love it now. Our zone is small but we had some really good Elders here. I have a wonderful companion, Elder Spencer. He is actually from Payson, Utah! Kinda cool ha-ha. And I am glad that you and Sister O'Harra have a good relationship. She is so awesome and has done so much for me. She is the fastest way to get info to you!

I am glad y'all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We played some Turkey Football on the new $1 million Beaumont High School field. About an hour into playing, I rolled my ankle... It was NOT fun. I was even wearing a brace! But I am fine now. We spent Thanksgiving with Robert's family. It was my home away from home. It was a good break to sit and relax and recharge. He has an awesome family. On Saturday, we went to a Seventh-day Adventist church with our investigator Archie. It was actually a pleasant experience. They are similar to our belief but still not quite there. We met some awesome people and had a good time.

Nothing big has happened except for the transfer. I ran my last district meeting this week and it went really well. I am going to miss Elder Locklear so much! He was an awesome missionary. On Sunday I said goodbye and that was hard for me. That ward has felt like home. With my luck, there would be a new bishopric put in my last Sunday! One of the members of the bishopric said that I am considered part of the ward family and I am always welcomed back. That meant so much to me. I have seen the ward go from hating missionaries to loving them because of our efforts in reviving the area. I loved serving there and seeing the success that I had. Sunday afternoon was spent saying goodbye to everyone. A member gave me a sweet camera so that afternoon was filled with pictures.

Sunday night, we had a very unique opportunity with one of our investigators. Mike does an online radio show every Sunday night and he invited us to be a part of that. We told him that we would not answer any doctrinal questions but that he could interview us as an individual. So we went over Sunday night and talked on the show for about an hour! You can actually listen to the broadcast on www.tommyandthiebs.com. I was on last Sunday's show which was pretty cool. It was a lot of fun and a good last night, I went out with a bang.

Oh boy, Monday was way too much fun. A member took us out golfing to the Calimesa Country Club and I had a BLAST. I actually have my own set of clubs now so it was fun that I got to use them finally. We got a golf cart as well so Johnson and I had so much fun. The guy we went with brought his nephew and we had a blast. I am TERRIBLE at golf but I enjoyed myself. That took almost the whole afternoon and luckily I got to pack most of my stuff Saturday and Sunday so it all worked out. Austin O'Harra dropped me off and said goodbye. Can you make sure that Austin has my mission office address so I can write him? I really want to stay in contact with him. They are an awesome family.

A little about Moreno Valley: it is small city but it has a huge population. I have always heard it called "Murder Valley" but it actually isn't that bad. Our area is huge! I am so glad that I get new scenery! The best part is... I get to drive around in a truck!

Yes, you heard me right. A truck! I love it. My companion is awesome, I already like him. We are going to have some fun together, even if it is only for a transfer. He has been here for almost 6 months so his time is almost up. We smashed a taco eating contest at a member’s house last night. We ate 30 tacos combined, 15 apiece. They were so good but I felt sick for the rest of the night! The old record was 11 tacos and the record was held by two teenage girls. We could let that be the ultimate record! So we decided to smash it :).

Other than that, things are going well. I got moved in and things are good. I live with a Samoan so it is always fun at the house at night.  My shirt size is a 17 1/2 neck and a 34 in sleeve size. If you could, I would love to have some slim fit shirts with some of the polyester material. Thank y’all so much for taking care of me! I love hearing how things are going there. I miss y’all so much. Keep working hard and always remember that your missionary son loves you!

Elder Tonini

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Text from Sister O'Harra

Sister O'Harra:  Hey Sister Tonini!  Elder Tonini is getting transferred on Monday!  He is going to be a zone leader in Moreno Valley, about 20 minutes from here.

Me:  Wow wow wow.  I know he feels he's not ready but the Lord has other things for him to do.

Sister O'Harra:  He is SOOOO ready!  He is an amazing leader and Victor is strong on his feet!  Another "Victor" needs him!!  Austin is taking him out to lunch!  :)

Me:  Wow.  When will he go?

Sister O'Harra:  He leaves Monday :(

Me:  Wow!!!  I am really excited for him!!  I too think he is ready to go on.

Sister O'Harra:  I will miss him so much!  He has been a common "fixture" at our table.  Ha ha.

Me:  Great.  tell him how proud we are of him.  Thanks so much for all you have done for him.  Hopefully there will be another "Sister O'Harra" for him and me!!

Sister O'Harra:  There are always missionary moms out there.  I have had a chance to experience the joy at my end. 


Monday, November 19, 2012

email: November 19, 2012

So it is finally week six in the mission and you know what that means: transfers are in the air! So we will see what happens and if I stay or go. To be honest, I am having a gut feeling that I am staying here for another transfer. I feel like I haven't finished my purpose here in Beaumont. I know that sounds crazy but that is the impression that I have been getting all week so we will see.

I didn't get an email from Momma... but it is all good. I seriously have the most beautiful sister ever! My jaw was dropped when I saw the pictures she sent to me. She is going to be a heart breaker very soon if she isn't already. Plus she is already super fun to be around. What better combo could there be?! Jake sounds like he is doing well. I miss my best friend... But I am glad he is doing well. He is going to be an awesome college student and an awesome missionary. I am glad you liked the pictures from Victor's ordination at the O'Hara's. Even though they are not in my ward, that home feels like home away from home. That is a relationship that will last forever. Alright, time to tell you about my week.

Monday was a usual P-Day and we went to play Disc Golf with Robert. He is working a lot so it is always nice to get to spend time with him. We played for a while then did the usual things: laundry, email, write letters, etc. We then had dinner and went to Victor's to teach him more about the Priesthood. He has seriously become my best friend out here. It was so emotional for me to see him get ordained an Elder. It is crazy to think that he had made this much progress since I have been here and I have gotten to see it all. I honestly feel like if I hadn't gone on my mission, he would not be in the Church or where he is right now. Heck, he is planning in going on a mission! That is awesome in itself.

On Tuesday, we went to email because the library was closed on Monday because of Veterans Day. So we did that in the morning and had lunch. Afterwards, we went out and started to tract using the new method. We haven't gotten into a house yet but we are not giving up on it. That night, we went over to teach Janie and get her ready for baptism that happened this weekend.

On Wednesday, we taught Archie and we had an interesting lesson. We taught about the Book of Mormon and we invited him to read. He then started to freak out and say stuff like "Man, I like you guys! If I read the Book of Mormon and find out that its true, I am going to have to be baptized!" and other stuff like that. He told us that if we find where it says that the Sabbath is on a Sunday, then he would convert. He is Seventh Day Adventist so we see differently on that area. That night, we had our lesson with Jacob again. However, this lesson did not go according to plan. Half way through the lesson, he gets up and leaves to go to the other room. His grandmother finds him sobbing on the floor, struggling with his depression that he was feeling. I sat down next to him, grabbed him in my arms and held him as he sobbed. We finally got him to calm down and feel better. However, he struggled that night and couldn't sleep. He even fell on the floor and his grandmother had to get him back up. She called us at 1:30 am, asking us to come and give him a blessing. I fell asleep with the phone next to me ON VIBRATE and I still woke up to the phone call. So we threw on our shirts, ties, and jackets and rode over to give him a blessing in the wee hours of the morning. I honestly think that he is the reason why I need to stay in Beaumont, to help him get better and into the waters of baptism. However, it isn't my will but God's will so we will have to see.

We had Jannie's baptism interview on Thursday night. Our Zone Leaders came and gave her the interview because I can't do it due to the fact that I am the District Leader. We were sitting outside the apartment and we were talking to some of the neighbors. One of them was watching her one-year old son running around and he gave me rocks the entire time. Before that, he picked up an unlit cigarette, put it to his mouth, dropped it, smashed it with his foot and walked away. His mom says "yup, that is my son!" I was in shock when I saw that happen! This world is going to the dumps... We need to raise our children in the ways of Christ otherwise things are only going to get worse! Jannie did pass her interview, that she was SUPER nervous about, and we are ready to get her baptized on Saturday!

Friday was all about making sure that we have everything ready for the baptism on Saturday. We got the programs printed out and ready, building scheduled, people assigned to different tasks and for Jannie to be ready. We went over to the Ross' to get the program printed out. We tracted, using the new Harvesting Method, helped one of our investigators move a swing set over a fence and went to a return appointment to do the blessing. We took Victor with us and it went well. When we knocked on the door, the guy was surprised to see us because no one has ever come back! He invited us in and we got to know the family. They are a young family, with a two-year old boy and another boy on the way. They both haven't been to church in a long time so they were interested in the blessing. The blessing that Elder Johnson left with them was super powerful. They really felt the Spirit strongly there in their living room. I talked about eternal families and how that can be a possibility. We are supposed to invite them to baptism after the blessing but I felt prompted to do otherwise. It was cool to actually be able to get into a home and do the blessing! The Spirit was so strong there, it was crazy awesome.

Saturday was the big day! It was time for Jannie to get baptized. However, we went and visited Mike again. When we were ridding over there, I was fully preparing myself for another scriptural bash. But that was not the case, it turned into a mini testimony meeting! He asked us what our testimonies were and so we shared that with him. It was super powerful and he got to know me a little more personally. He asked us if he can interview us on his Internet radio show but I am not sure how we will do that. We will have to know the questions ahead of time so that we know what to say. Mother Nature decided that she wanted to pour on us so it did. We rode around in the pouring rain. That night was Jannie's baptism and it went super well. Victor talked on baptism and the Holy Ghost and Elder Johnson baptized her. It was a super spiritual experience for her and she loved it. She really did feel the newness of life afterwards.

Jannie got confirmed on Sunday and she is ready to take on the world! After church, we went to Victor's ordination and that went really well! I got all teared up because I was so proud of him. After that, we got our 20 OYMs and spent the rest of the day with members then Johnson and I talking for a good hour on the steps of the library until 9 pm so we would be obedient. We even saw a drug deal go down outside our apartment before we went to dinner! Not cool. Overall, it was a very productive week and a very spiritual week. Things are going well and I am being safe. I am getting over illness and I am feeling well. Hope things are going well and everyone is in good spirits. Enjoy Thanksgiving and have fun with the family! I love y'all and miss y'all terribly.

Elder Tonini

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Text from Sister O'Harra

Sister O'Harra:  Hi Sis Tonini here are pictures of the group when Victor got ordained today

He says he loves you all! They will be back for dinner at 6! :) Victor is officially an Elder, he is putting his papers in 4 months! Can you believe it??

Me:  So very awesome!! What a great day for your family and my boy!!! Victor is amazing! Thanks for sharing.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

email: November 13, 2012

Momma,I am glad that you liked your birthday picture! It was the least I could do. I wish I could have done more for you... However, I will make it up when I get home from my mission :). I cannot believe that I have been out for 8 months already! The time is flying by way too fast. Dad didn't try to install the radio himself this time? We sure did have fun installing the radio in the car! That would be awesome to get a new camcorder! Y'all can send me DVD's for the holidays of the family. I am so stoked that Jake got into Texas Tech! I haven't heard from Carson lately... I hope he is doing okay. Dad would go to North Dakota and go play with Geoff at work! Goodness, I miss my father. When I was home before my mission, I really started to feel him become my best friend. I wish I had that sooner and I miss it a lot. The weather here has been super cold! I am Southern California and it is cold? Something is wrong here! But I am glad you are enjoying life and things going on.

At Multi-Zones, President Smart changed the way of missionary work. Our way of contacting people is a completely new. We call it the Harvesting Blessing. We tell people that we are "representatives of our Lord, Jesus Christ and He has sent us to you to leave His peace and blessing on your home". We then go in, leaving a Priesthood blessing and help them feel the spirit. The success has been amazing. We have done a few blessings and the spirit has been so strong there. I love the new change because it takes away the fact that we are LDS Missionaries but that we are representing Christ. So we will see how things go!

On Wednesday, I did exchanges within the District. I had an Elder come with me to my area with me. He has only been out for 4 weeks at the time so it was fun to help him learn. We went and tried to make contact with some potentials that we found in the morning. We then taught Archie again and we had a good lesson. He is Seventh Day Adventist and we exchanged ideas back and forth. He didn't agree with some of our views but I could see the points I made and backed them up with scripture. You could see the gears in his head turning as he was trying to understand everything. After that, we went and ate at the Sandwich Stoppe. We got our meal for free! Some members hooked us up. We then went to teach Janie and boy was she on something! She was going crazy and asking crazy questions. I don't understand why she was acting that way but it was really odd. After dinner, we went to teach Jacob again. We went in, planning to teach the Plan of Salvation but we changed it to the Gospel of Christ. He finally opened up to us and found out a lot about him. He suffers from major depression and has had major issues with that. Throughout the entire lesson, I felt like I was teaching my own brother. My love for him was so strong while we were there. His mother was present as well and she told us that Jacob feels like God doesn't love him or listen to him. The spirit prompted me to bear my testimony to him so I did. I cannot explain the love that I felt for him while we taught. The spirit was so strong that there wasn't a dry eye in the room. Yes, my emotional side strikes again. But it was a powerful lesson and it went well.

We went back to visit Janie and things were WAY different. She was her usual self and we had a good lesson. Our new High Priest group leader came with us and it was good to have him there. I love seeing the change in people. Friday we tracked a ton. We put into practice the Harvesting method and it was awesome. We found some good potentials that we are going to go back and see this week. We were supposed to have a mini-missionary but he flaked. We taught Victor that night and went out to eat with him. Saturday we went and tracked some more.Some bad new... We have had to drop Victor's sister, Tina. She has fallen back into her perception drug addiction. Things have been hard for Victor and his family because of her decisions. I actually gave him a blessing on Tuesday night just after we had started our exchange. The other Elder told me that the blessing was one of the most spiritual blessings that he has ever heard. Crazy thing is, I don't remember half of what I said. Just another day on the mission. Things are going well here and the work is starting to pick up again.

Mary and Tammy came to church on Sunday so it was good to get to see them again. We had a lesson with Jose Guiza on Sunday night. He is the youth pastor at that church that I have become friends with. He told us that there was a reason why we were placed in their lives. He even went and bought Teachings of the Prophet to find out what we believe in. We had a two hour discussion with him. We gave him a Book of Mormon and invited him to read and pray. It was awesome because I never dreamed that I would teach this family. During that lesson, a potential called us and said that she wants to meet up next weekend. She is in a correctional home to get her life back on track and she wants to become a member of the Church. It is awesome how the Lord works in his ways! Just from being out and talking to everyone we see is going to bring another soul unto Christ. I love it!

Being a missionary has really helped for me to see my potential and what God wants me to become. I have reflected back and thought to how I was just a year ago. There is night and day difference. I don't know what I would do if I haven't gone on my mission. The people we have met and the changed I have seen have been incredible. My testimony of the scriptures have increased and of the restored gospel has grown. The more I read the Bible, the more my testimony of the Book of Mormon grows. I know that my Redeemer lives. I love Him with all my heart. When life knocks me down on my knees, that is the best place and time to pray. A very dear friend of mine taught me that and it is so very true. I love y'all so much and miss y'all. Enjoy the holidays and don't worry about me, I will be fine!

Your missionary son,

Elder Andrew B. Tonini

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Birthday Wishes to Mom

Hey Sister O`Harra! This is Elder Tonini, could you do me a huge favor? Could you text my mother and tell her that I wish her a happy birthday and that I  love her to pieces and miss her dearly? 
<Elder Johnson & Tonini>

Monday, November 5, 2012

email: November 5, 2012

Subj: It was a good week!

Corina told me about a missionary experience that she had and I was beaming from ear to ear! I love that sister of mine. I gave her some stuff to read up on so hopefully she will do that. Jacob is so funny, I love how excited he is about college! He is going to do so well there. He really wants one of my extra suits that I have. The only thing I am worried about is him being able to fit it. Speaking of that, I have only put on 9 lbs since I left for my mission! That is pretty exciting. Hard work does pay off. On the topic of hard work, here was my week!

On Monday we had FHE with Carol at her house. The Pratt's came as well and their nephew tagged along. Come to find out, he knows the Romney's in Prosper, Texas! Uncle Kimball was his Priest Quorum adviser when they were in the same ward. He sent a picture of us to Nicole and talked to Aunt Heidi as well. He leaves on his mission in 2 weeks so it was good to see him. Our PDay was filled with the usual.

I was able to get my country fix with Austin on Tuesday when we went and helped him buck some hay for his landlord. We used the hooks and everything. It was fun, I actually felt like I was back home in Seminole! We had to cut that short because we had a lesson with our new investigator, Archie. We found three new investigators this week! Pretty awesome when you work as hard as you can for the Lord. It truly is His work here! Austin then took us out to Tacos and Beer to eat :). We seriously eat there at least once a week. The Carne Asada fries with a Carne Asada quesadilla is the bomb! We had dinner a few hours after that so that was kinda miserable. Janie and Corinna both canceled on us again... So we went home teaching with Victor. We got milkshakes afterwards at Baker's.

We never finished that truckload of hay with Austin so we went back and helped him again on Wednesday. We were machines! It was so much fun, we got dirty and nasty but it was so worth it. After bucking, we went and had lunch with Sister O'Harra and some of her employees. We went to Chili's together and talked a lot about the mission. I also found out some interesting news about Mary! She met one of the Mission Presidency and he was so excited to finally meet her. Apparently, her conversion story has gone viral in the mission. President Crippen wants her to meet with an Ensign writer and get her's and Tammy's (her daughter) story in the Ensign. I am going to be in the ENSIGN! I was so excited, she is awesome. She actually went in to the hospital this past week with super high blood pressure but she is okay now. We then taught the M***** family with their neighbor Ashely there. Hopefully we can get her as a new investigator. It was Halloween so we stopped working at 6 pm and went to the zone activity. I played volleyball with a few Polynesians and they were super good! It was a lot of fun. I got to see Elder Faka'Osi and Bingham!

Thursday we went and helped out Stan D** all morning. We helped him spread shavings in the chicken coop and get his quad up and running. While we were in the coop, he has these white pigeons that decided to do a fly by right over my head as I was trying to spread out the shavings. It was a lot of fun. The quad got up and running but because it had been sitting for a long time, it needed to get the carb cleaned out. Our sink got clogged and so the guy came to fix it. That took all afternoon... but we still talked to 20 people! That night, we went and taught Jacob B**** at his grandmother's house. She is already a member and she has tried to get his father to let him take lessons and he finally said yes! Since his name was Jacob, I felt like I was teaching my own brother. When we first started the lesson, his head was down and didn't seem to be paying attention. However, by the end he was fully engaged and he could really feel the spirit. Afterward, he asked if I could give him a blessing. I grabbed him by the shoulder and said "now, you are going to really feel the power of the priesthood." I had no idea on what was going on in his life but the Spirit gave me the words to say. It really hit him hard and he felt the Spirit so strongly. I gave him a hug and told him that I loved him and everything will be okay. I love being a priesthood holder and having those opportunities!

We had ZDM and went to go teach Janie. Before we went, we stopped in GNC to check things out. I ended up buying a blender that was on sale. It was such a good investment! I used it today and it was awesome. After that, we went to Janie's with Victor. She is SOOOOO ready to get baptized! We taught her the commandments to get baptized. I crushed up her last pack of cigarettes! It felt sooo good to do that. I seeing people make those changes in their life. We then went and taught Sister Ethel M*****. She is awesome! Victor took us up to the W*****'s to get some pre-workout that he ordered. Chris W***** told him to eat an Argentine lemon to get his $25 dollars back. He ate it and he went nuts! It was so funny. But he did get his $25. I ate part of a Naga Ghost Chili. That is the hottest chili in the world! It wasn't full strength but it was good. I ended up eating a full one on Sunday. It was good but super hot!



Well, that's about it from here. Send my love to Romney's and I hope Grandma will get better. That worries me about Mandy... I wish I was there to help her. Stu is awesome! And the Sterzer's are having a baby girl?! That is awesome! Send me their address so I can write them? I love you all and happy birthday Momma! I love you! And happy birthday to Dad and Corina as well. I love y'all!

Elder Tonini

Monday, October 29, 2012

email: October 29, 2012

I love hearing that things are going well for y'all back home. Everyone seems to be staying busy and continuing to grow and progress. Good things happen when we stay busy. How is the family on the East Coast doing? I have heard that Sandy is starting to pound the coast. They will be in my thoughts and prayers this week. How did Grandma Tonini do this week? I did my best to not feel depressed about losing Grandpa and I can only imagine what she has gone through. I loved his example and those last few precious memories that I had with him. He is in a better place now so it is all worth it. Death isn't the end, it is only the beginning.

My week started out rough. We had the funniest DDM (District Development Meeting). After that, my companion and I got into a fight on Tuesday. He said a few things and I said a few things back to him which made him snap. Johnson is a BIG dude and I was totally expecting to take a punch in the jaw. We have cleared the air though. I feel like he judges me all the time and he feels like I judge him all the time. He says very sarcastic things that really irritate me and I feel like he attacks me a lot. However, we cleared things up and things have gotten a lot better since then.

We taught a BOMB lesson to Corinna again and boy did she feel the Spirit. We taught about the Plan of Salvation and when we were in the lesson she got a call that one of her close friends is going to die soon. She felt the Spirit so strongly when we took the opportunity to teach about where we are going after we die. She is really solid and is still progressing. we might have to push her baptism back but it will still happen. It is awesome to have Victor there to help us teach. He really helps to invite the Spirit into our lessons.

On Wednesday, I went on exchanges with Elder Locklear and it was one of the most spiritual days ever. I went into Yuciapa and worked with him there. He is only two weeks old in the field so it was a great teaching opportunity to help him. His way of contacting was to only give people cards and to not talk to them. I helped him get over that and make the changes to become a better missionary. Our companionship study was him teaching me more things about the gospel. I learned things that I had always had questions to and my knowledge of the gospel exploded. I am so hungry to learn more and to get more out of the scriptures. There is so much to learn that I cannot wait to learn about it. I also found out that he cannot eat meat, his body won't allow him to. He is a Lumbee Indian and so he had a lot of cool stories to tell. We taught really good lessons and Elder Locklear even had his first bike wreck! He fell REALLY hard down a good size hill. He messed up his knuckles bad, ripped his shirt and cut his wrist. He got so lucky that he isn't separate his shoulder. I honestly think it was because he was wearing his garments that he didn't get hurt much worse! It was so much fun being in a new area and seeing different people. I love Oak Valley but I am ready for a change.

Thursday we went and ate at Tacos & Beer with Austin again. It was so good! We then went and taught a lesson to Janie, one of our new investigators. We went in planning to teach the Plan of Salvation but we ended up teaching the Gospel of Christ. Janie felt the Spirit so strongly that she started to cry. She wants a new life, to feel the power of baptism so we invited her to it and she accepted. It was one of the most spiritual lessons that I have had on my mission. It is amazing to see how our Savior can make the difference in peoples lives. She is really looking for a change and she knows where she wants to find it. It is awesome and I love seeing the gospel and the truth that it has bring people happiness!


Then something crazy happened. I talked to this guy outside his house and he told us that he wanted to learn more. As soon as we rode off, an undercover cop car pulled up and started to pat him down. Next thing we know, he his cuffed and sitting in the back of the car while another one rolled up. It was Gang Taskforce so who knows that happened! Just another day in Beaumont.

We went and saw Mike on Friday morning with Brother Bailey. Mike has had some good anti-questions that we have had trouble answering scriptural things to him. We brought Brother Bailey to help us because he is so intelligent in the gospel and teaching people. It was awesome seeing Mike understand things and to come closer to understanding. We talked about the Trinity, the Spirit World, becoming like God and some other things. I learned so much and I was supposed to be teaching! I learned how to better teach and help people to understand things better.

That night was our Halloween party and we were the judges for the best chili. Janie and her grand daughter came to the party! I seriously ate SO MUCH. We then had to judge the best costume as well. It was so much fun, I love my ward even if I have been here forever!

Our ward mission leader came over and we correlated for the upcoming week on Saturday. His son, J.T., tried to lift weights while we were talking and it was so funny to watch. It is so awesome to have a good Ward Mission Leader that is very proactive with us. I then had to catch up on some paperwork that took me three hours to finish! Lesson learned: DO NOT PROCRASTINATE. We then went out and contacted people until we went over to Brother Day's house to help him with a few things. He cooked us steak and we got to play with his remote control car. That little car will get up to 40MPH! It was so much fun. We then went out and talked to people until we got a call from Chris, wanting to talk with us. Chris has become less-active because of some things that have happened in the ward. However, we had a good talk and set up a plan to get him back on the right path. Hopefully we can help him feel the spirit and get over things that have happened.

Sunday was awesome, Janie and her grand daughter came to church! Janie loved church and really felt the spirit there. We also learned something that is sensitive information. I don't know if the stake there has told y'all about this but I thought I should y'all the heads up. Someone videoed the WHOLE temple session including the stuff at the veil. Not good... And the video has gone viral. So just a heads up, just in case people start to ask about the video. We have been instructed to refer non-members directly to SLC and for members to talk to the stake president. Hopefully this won't be a stumbling block for the church. It will be interesting to see how this will affect us. Other than that, my Sunday was awesome and we talked to a lot of people.

Well, that is about my week. Things are starting to slowly look up, a day at a time. I love y'all and miss everyone dearly. I am so grateful for my Savior and the comfort He gives to me. I have learned a lot about relying on Him and having Him help me get over my trials. I love Him with all my heart and I feel honored to be a servant for Him. Always remember that Christ paid the ultimate price for us and knows exactly what we need, He is the way back home. Hope y'all have a wonderful week and know that I love you!

Elder Tonini

Monday, October 22, 2012

email: October 22, 2012

I cannot believe that it has been two years since Grandpa Tonini passed away. I knew that it was coming up but I didn't realize that it was today. I miss him so much... And I can only imagine what Grandma feels. Those last memories that I have with him are one of the most treasured memories. The Plan of Happiness really does bring happiness and helps to ease the pain for which I am eternally grateful for.

Are y'all running my Facebook? I have people from my ward add me all the time so could you make sure that someone is taking care of it? Also, could y'all update the pictures? They are almost eight months old! Robert showed me my profile and nothing has changed. So if y'all could do that, I would deeply appreciate it! I also got an email from Grandpa Romney, which brought a huge smile to my face! I love hearing from all of my grandparents. I am glad that they are proud of me and of the things that I am doing. I represent our name; I better be doing great things!

I am glad you liked my last letter, it was seriously a crazy week! Carol is so happy now, she really can feel the Holy Ghost in her life. I see it in her every time I see her. Also, I did get the bike seat and it was sweet! Thank you for sending that to me, it makes work A LOT more enjoyable! I don't need anything right now, I am taken care of. Regarding Christmas, I actually just broke my camera and have to jerry-rig it to work it. So that could be a possibility? Also, I love ties so maybe some more? And I could use some more garments, just so that I could have some extra during the week and not have to do laundry throughout that week. Oh, and maybe some more white shirts? More the better! Thank you for caring so much about me, it means a lot!

Oh boy, my week was an interesting one. It seriously felt like an Abinadi week. We didn't have a lot of success or teach a lot because we had A LOT of lessons fall through. I really did feel the Adversary hit me hard. I have had feelings of disappointment, failure and depression. He really attacked me hard, making me feel like I am not good enough and it really did affect me. But I recognized it and I am going to make this week a better one. We did, however, get a new ward mission leader and he is awesome! He actually served in our mission so he is very missionary oriented already. The work is going to explode here soon.

I also ran my first district meeting this week. It was a cool experience because a couple of days before, I started to stress over what I was going to train on. Everything I looked at didn't feel right. So I said a prayer and asked for guidance to find what I needed to teach. In companionship study, Elder Johnson suggested that I train over the Spirit and how to use it in missionary work. I thought about it and that topic felt right. It is amazing how prayers get answered like that! The training went well, half of my district are greenies so I hope that they learned something from it. Afterwards, we went to Burger King to get some lunch. While we were there, Elder Johnson seriously made me almost die laughing. He was wearing his three piece suit, minus the jacket, with his sunglasses on and a BK crown walking around the place. People were calling him the King, where is your scepter, and so on. It was so funny, I haven't laughed that hard in a while.

That night, we went to go check on a name that the Bishop asked us to go see. We knocked on the door at 7:30 at night, pitch dark, and we see this huge tatted up man answer the door. We asked if he was the member we came to see and his face lit up and said " COME ON IN ELDERS!" We were so surprised! He showed us his cars and toys and stuff and got to learn more about him. He is a convert and is less-active now. He is SUPER tatted up and is wanting to get more. He has over 600 hours in the tattoo chair! However, it was a fun visit. We reported back to the Bishop, which he was grateful for. On Sunday, Victor got called to be a ward missionary and I got to stand in the circle when he got set apart! We also got to stand in as one of the youth received the priesthood as well. After church, I had a really good talk with Victor about stuff that I have been bothered with. He really did help me get through some things and open a new light. He is seriously one of my closest friends now and to have someone to talk to. Even though things were rough this week, I am going to make the CHOICE to be happy! She taught me that lesson and to which I am most grateful for.

That about sums up my week here. The weather is starting to feel AMAZING! Hopefully it will stay that way. I love y'all and miss y'all dearly. Hope things are going well for everyone. I am so grateful for my Savior and His Atonement. I love the Plan of Salvation, it means so much to me. Prayer is such a wonderful and powerful thing. Keep praying and building your faith. You can never have too much faith! Have a wonderful week :)

Love,

Elder Tonini

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

email: October 16, 2012

Subj: Another 6 weeks in Oak Valley!

Sorry I missed emailing on Monday, we got the short end of the stick during transfers and couldn't email or shop... Transfers came and gone and I am staying in Beaumont for another 6 weeks. However, I got called to be the new District Leader! This will be an interesting change because my district will be three "seasoned" Elders and three Greenies. The old AP is in my district as well and he is training so it will be interesting. Apparently, they had to pull some strings to get me to stay and be the DL so we will see what happens.

So a little about my week:

Elder Johnson and I found a new lady to teach on Tuesday. Her name is Corinna and she is from Germany. Even though she has been here in the States, she still has an accent. Victor came with us and taught her the message of the Restoration. Elder Johnson and I decided to invite her to baptism on the first lesson to see if she was the elect. She really didn't have much of a religious background and has always wondered why there were so many churches if there is only one God. BINGO! She understood everything and the lesson was super powerful. We invited her to baptism and she accepted for the first weekend in November! She was the elect and now we have to continue in preparing her to make those convents at baptism.

We then had another lesson with a potential that the Spanams (Spanish Elders) found for us. Her name is Janie and she actually searched out the Spanams, wanting them to teach her. We set something up for Thursday and we went over to teach her. She is in her 50's (we think) and is a recovering addict. It was pouring rain and we still rode over to see her. We taught the Restoration again and it went really well. She has some religious background but for some reason, she LOVES Joseph Smith. The first thing she asks us was "tell me about Joe Smith". We taught her and she really liked it. We left her with a Book of Mormon to read. She has been prepared and is ready for the Gospel. Hopefully this next lesson we will invite her to baptism.

All week, we really focused on getting Carol ready to be baptized. We met with her on Monday and got her prepared for Thursday when she would be interviewed. On Wednesday, I felt like we needed to fast for her. Sure enough, we get a text from her saying that she doesn't think she is ready, doesn't have a strong enough belief in Joseph Smith, etc. As soon as I read that, I hit my knees in prayer, pleading for divine help to get her ready. While I was praying, Elder Johnson got the same impression to pray and came to tell me that we needed to pray. However, I was already on my knees so he went and prayed on his own. When we got to Carol's, Chelsa P***** was there with her. Chelsa is a co-worker of hers that is in another ward. She played a HUGE part in her conversion. We talked more with Carol and answered her concerns and told her that she doesn't have to know EVERYTHING, but to have faith in it. Faith isn't a perfect knowledge and that was what we told her. So Carol went and got interviewed and while she was in there, we talked more with Chelsa. Come to find out, she was with Carol the entire afternoon, talking with her and helping her with her issues and questions. That seriously was an answer to prayer and fasting! Carol passed her interview and she got baptized on Saturday!

We had a lesson with our investigator Mike on Saturday. We have been over before but he just bashed with us. It wasn't intense but he would NOT let us teach and it got super frustrating. He went online and found "contradictory" scriptures in the Book of Mormon. He believes in the Trinity and I have a hard time explaining it to people. He does want us to come back so I think we are going to bring Brother Bailey with us. He is basically a scholar in Mormon Doctrine so it will be a HUGE help. He actually took us out to lunch and we talked about it. We gave a lot of service before the baptism. The baptism went really well! The whole family was there and it was a good experience for them. When I got in the water with Carol, the Spirit hit me so strongly that I almost teared up while saying the baptism prayer. It was as close as I will ever get to baptizing my own mother. It is seriously amazing how much love I can feel for someone who is coming into the Gospel. There is a reason why I stayed in Beaumont and it was for her. I know that for a fact!

I got to confirm Carol on Sunday as well. The power of the priesthood is so real! I had no idea what I was going to say but the words flowed out of my mouth and it was what Carol needed to hear. On top of seeing Carol get confirmed, Victor spoke in Sacrament Meeting for the first time! He announced that he has decided to go on a mission. I was so proud of him and the progress he is making in his life.

Overall, it was an awesome week. However, Elder Bingham and Tukuafu got transferred... Bingham is now a District leader in Redlands and Tukuafu is a Zone Leader in Yucca Valley! Super exciting but sad to see them leave.

Since it is Tuesday, I'll tell a little bit about my Monday. We went an played disc golf with the usual group then went to the Sandwich Stoppe to eat. Tukuafu decided he wanted to do the Junkyard Challenge. The challenge is to eat this HUGE sandwich, a thing of fries, 32 OZ drink and a large shake. The record was 13 minutes and 30 seconds. Now, Elder Tukuafu is a BIG boy from Tonga. He took down the challenge in 10 minutes and 55 seconds! It was NUTS! After that, we got transfers out of the way then went and got Elder Johnson's new weight set from another Elder.

After that, we went to the Neilson's for dinner and to Carol's for a lesson. That lesson was so spiritual. We talked about obedience and then went to the topic of the Atonement. The Pratt family was there with their 15 year old daughter. We got talking about some of her trials and how she hasn't felt the Atonement work in her life. I bore my testimony to her that the Atonement is REAL. That is works, that anything is possible through Him. I told her that the reason why the Adversary was hitting her so hard was because he KNOWS what she is capable of. There wasn't a dry eye in the room (including mine, of course) while I bore my testimony to her. It was seriously one of the most spiritual lessons I have ever taught. I love being a missionary so much, because of those special moments I get to share with people I care about. I hope I made an impact on her for the better!

Well, time to start the new transfer as the DL and finishing up training Elder Johnson. I got my bike fixed but did not get a new seat. Hopefully I will get my seat at the mission office on Friday after my leadership meeting. Yay for meetings.

That is all from here in Cali, hope things are going well in Texas! I love y'all so much and pray that everything is going well. Thank you for everything, especially your example to me in my life. I won't be the man I am today if it wasn't for y'all. Hope to hear from y'all soon!

Your missionary son,

Elder Andrew B. Tonini

Friday, October 12, 2012

Missionary Life - Then and Now

I am frequently reminded that our son's mission experience is very different in so many ways from when we served our mission twenty-five years ago in Brazil.  So a couple of weeks ago, I asked Elder Tonini if he would answer a couple of questions to help us better understand the life as a missionary.  Here are our answers:

  • Where do you do your laundry?
    • ET:  I do my landry at my apartment.  We have a washer and dryer there in our kitchen.
    • Me:  We either paid someone to do our laundry or wash them by hand ourselves and hung them out to dry.
  • How much money to you get each month?  (This would be used for food, clothing, bike repairs, etc.  Housing and utilities would be paid for by the mission).
    • ET:  We get $125 a week to live off of.
    • Me:  We got $125 per month.
  • What is your commitment/goal each week for service (i.e. non-proselyting time)
    • ET:  We really don't have a set goal/commitment for service each week.  that is up for us to decide.
    • Me:  This concept of providing service (e.g. volunteering at the library) was not part of our missionary schedule.  We would have 70 hours of week of proselyting time.
  •  Where do you email from each week?  What happens if it is closed on Monday (assuming you are using a public library PC)?
    • ET:  We email from the Beaumont LIbrary on Mondays on the computers.  If it's a holiday, we go one Tuesdays to email our weekly report to the mission home and to write our families.
    • Me:  Did email exist in 1986?  We relied on snail mail.
  • Are you on your bike all of the time?  Does that motivate you to do splits with the members so you can be in a car at night?
    • ET: Yes, we ride every where!  I am over 1,200 miles on the saddle.  It does motive us to be better planners so we can be in a lesson at nightfall.
    • Me:  I had one area where bikes were an option and another area where I was in a car.  The rest of my mission was on foot or by public transport (buses and taxis).
  • Are there any mission-specific rules that President Smart has imposed?
    • ET:  There aren't any specific rules but we do have high standards to meet.
    • Me:  In addition to The Missionary Handbook, we also had 19 Points that we would try to do.  It's been so long, I can't even name one of the 19 Points.
One thing that hasn't changed is the attachment and love that you feel for those whom you teach.  Twenty-five years later, I still keep in touch with those to whom I had the privilege of introducing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It will be the same for this Elder Tonini twenty-five years from now.

Monday, October 8, 2012

email: October 8, 2012

It sure was an awesome week so here we go:

So I threw out my back this week and I have been miserable... However, I have been doing my exercises Carol gave me and using the electro stimulation machine on my back so it has helped out a lot! But it was a tough week to start out with. Our week started off by meeting with Carol on Tuesday night with Robert. We went over the baptismal interview questions with her and basically taught her the Restoration again. She seemed to understand and comprehend what we re-taught her. When we were getting ready to leave, she told us that she has made up her mind to go ahead and get baptized on the 13th. Oh goodness, did I ever feel a burden lifted off of my shoulders when I heard her say that to me! We then went on to tell her that we were going to the temple on Friday and she really wanted to go with us. So I offered to have her go and walk around the temple and feel the special Spirit there. So we set that up for Wednesday night. I then heard from Mary that she got her temple recommend and is going to the San Diego temple to do baptisms for the dead! Sure exciting as well.

All day Wednesday, all I could think about was the temple trip with Carol. Victor went with us so that we could ride up in her car with her. Our new Relief Society President met us there, Sister Murphy. We talked and walked as we admired the temple as it was lit up in the California night. It was so breath taking, the temple looked so good at night! We talked with her and both Sister Murphy and I bore testimony of the temple and of how families can be together forever. It was such a sweet experience to be there with those two wonderful women. We kept walking and explained more of the temple. I told her that I know that I stayed in Beaumont because I needed to be there for her. I then went on to explain to her that I need to go to the temple because I need comfort and guidance. She went on to tell me that she knows that God is going to prepare a wonderful woman for me to be my wife and that she felt goosebumps go through her when she told me that. That was an answer to prayer that I was in need of. It was such an amazing experience for me.

We had an interesting experience on Thursday outside our apartment. We heard someone yelling at the top of their lungs and we saw a black woman walking down the street with a cane. We went up to talk to her and she turned out to be not mentally stable. She kept screaming/yelling "Jesus help me, someone is after me! LORD HELP ME!". I did my best to calm her down but she would not listen to me. She kept telling me that someone was following her and looking for her. She told us to call the police and to get help. Come to find out, she told us that she was on Speed (the drug). She was nuts, and even freaked out when she heard a leaf fall from the tree near us. A neighbor came out to help us and we called 911. The Beaumont PD showed us and sure enough, there was a glass Meth pipe in her purse. After that, we went and tracted the Boulevard for three hours. We talked to 63 people and got four potentials. Just another day in Beaumont.

Friday was our temple day. I went in looking for guidance and peace. It was an amazing session, the Spirit was there so strongly. When I got into the Celestial room, I started to pour out my heart and soul unto my Father in Heaven. I pleaded for guidance and peace in regarding the burden I have been carrying. While I sat there and pondered, I felt a warmth start at the top of my head and run all the way through my body. I felt true peace for the first time in months. I also had two thoughts come to my head. The first was: don't worry about things back home, I will take care of you. It is my work you are doing and I will take care of you. That was so profound that I know that the Spirit was talking to me. I then thought of a scripture in Ether 12:27. That all weak things will become strong unto me. That was such a comfort to know that my Father was watching over me. I have now let go, to let the Lord run His course and that He will take care of me. It was such an awesome experience, something I will treasure for a very long time.

Conference Weekend is always so much fun as a missionary. We watched the morning session and then we went to a lady that we met with Robert because she wanted to give us a bunch of her husbands clothes, as he passed away three years ago. She pulled out like five suits, a french cuff shirt and a whole bunch of ties! I walked away with two new suits, a french cuff shirt, and a whole bunch of ties! It was so much clothes. It meant so much to her that she could give those clothes to us. She knows that they will be used in a good way. Elder Holland's talk seriously brought me to tears. It reminded me WHY I am a missionary and how significant it is to say "having been commissioned of Jesus Christ" when I walk into the waters of baptism with my converts. It gave me the confidence to keep working my hardest. We watched the afternoon session, got our 20 OYMs and then went to the priesthood session. And guess who took us? ROBERT! And he even wore a suit! So I wore a suit and my new french cuff shirt :). I even got Transformers cuff links from my Elders Quorum President! IT was so cool to have Robert go with us. He is the closest thing I have to a father while I am away from my real one. It was such a wonderful week all the way around.

So Jake told me that he might not leave when he is 18 to go on his mission. That seriously broke my heart because he was the first person I thought about going on a mission. I have such a love for my mission that I want him to experience that for himself. Hopefully he will pray about it and see what the Lord tells him because it is coming up fast. That is so exciting that the Lira's went to the temple! I wish I was there to go with them but that is such an amazing accomplishment. Going to the temple is so amazing, Carol and Victor both want to go so badly so it will be awesome to go there with them in a year! I will send pictures of Carol's baptism! Someone gave me an airplane tie and that is going to be my new baptism tie. It reminds me of Grandpa Tonini and he is one of the main reasons why I am on a mission so it is in honor of him. I miss him so much... But I know he is here with me while I am out serving so it makes it a little bit easier. I love y'all so much and thank y'all for all the prayers in my behalf.

-Elder Tonini

PS Can you give my address to Katelyn and Jessica? I want to write them and see how they are doing!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Church Lowers Missionary Service Age

SALT LAKE CITY

In a move to expand the opportunities for young members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to serve full-time missions, Church President Thomas S. Monson announced today that, effective immediately, men may now begin serving at age 18 and women at age 19.

The previous age for beginning missionary service was 19 years of age for young men and 21 for young women.

The announcement was made during the opening session of the Church’s 182nd Semiannual General Conference, broadcast worldwide from Salt Lake City, Utah.

The Church anticipates that lowering the age requirement will significantly increase the number of missionaries who will serve by expanding the options for when they may begin their service.

“I am not suggesting that all young men will — or should — serve at this earlier age,” President Monson said. Rather, he said, the option is now available based on individual circumstances, as well as upon a determination by local Church leaders. (Read President Monson's full remarks.)

Monday, October 1, 2012

email: October 1, 2012

Carol's baptism didn't happen on Saturday. She didn't feel ready so we pushed it back two weeks to October 13th. This is a pretty solid date, we are going to make sure that she is ready! Sounds like things are staying busy there in Seminole. Even though I wasn't there for long, I sure do miss it! Send my regard to everyone back home. I am so excited to hear about the Lira's going to the temple! We are going on Friday so they will be in my thoughts and prayers.

Ready for my week? Here we go:

Monday we had a lesson with Carol with the Pratt's and Chelsa. It was a really uplifting lesson, however we did learn that she wasn't ready for baptism this week... She still needs a testimony of the Restoration. I thought I had taught her that but I guess not... I took it hard knowing that she didn't know that because I felt like it reflected on the type of missionary I am. I really did feel like a failure of a missionary. However, there is always room for improvement and that is why repentance is there so I learned from it and moved on. I won't make that mistake twice!

On Tuesday, we went back to visit a potential that Elder Johnson had found while we went tracting. We showed up to his house and talked to him on his doorstep for two hours! He really didn't see the same way we do and his heart was pretty hard so I noticed right away that he wasn't the elect that we were looking for. However, it was good for Elder Johnson because he taught a lot and learned from the lesson. After that, we went and saw the Mathie's and I got to see my boys. Christopher is doing better, getting better every day. We taught them a lesson about Abinadi and how we can learn from that. We then went and taught Victor about eternal marriage. That was a good lesson, the Spirit was strong there. I love Vic so much, he seriously has become a brother to me. We always have a good discussion when we go over there.

On Wednesday, we went on exchanges with the Spanams. I got to drive a car all day! However, I think being on bike is better. You talk to WAY more people that you do in the car. My comp for the day, Elder Richins, is a greenie as well and doesn't know much Spanish yet so we visited all the families that could speak English. That poor Elder got SOOO stressed out when things started to fall through. I taught him that you have to roll with the punches and do all that you can do to stay busy and be productive. Even if it means walking in the dark and talking to people before a lesson (yes, we had to do that!). Elder Johnson learned a lot as well as we ran the area by himself without me there to give input. Overall, it was a productive day in both areas.

Thursday was our usual weekly planning. After that, we went and visited a less active lady who is 91 years old! She reminds me a lot of Great Grandma Marie Tonini. She is still full of energy at her old age. Our intention of going over there was to help her hang some pictures she wanted to hang up. After that, we taught her about prophets and about how General Conference is coming up. She then came out and gave us some of her husband's old ties and a cuff link set. He passed away about three years ago so she gave some of his old stuff to us. While I was there, I saw this ad for a french cuff dress shirt for $20! I am going to order one this week :) I am super stoked about it! I even get it custom embroidered. That night, we taught Victor again. He always wants to learn more so we go over and teach him whatever he wants to learn.

Friday we helped a sister in our ward move her mother-in-law. They weren't members so it was a great missionary opportunity to give back to the community. We made a good impact on that family and really brought the Spirit into their lives for a short period. We then went over the Carol's to see them and check up on them. Rob worked all week so it was nice to see him.

We taught Tina (Victor's sister) on Saturday. She had just gotten home from the hospital so it was good to see her back home. She is so solid, it is amazing! She is already in the book of Mosiah in the Book of Mormon. We had to push her baptism date back because of her health. Other than that, she is ready.

Sunday we had fast and testimony meeting which was really good! Both Elder Johnson and I got up and bore our testimony. I feel like Oak Valley has become my home ward because of the amount of time I have been here! After church, we went and visited the Mathie's again and taught them about prophets and General Conference. We had dinner with our new Relief Society president, Sister Murphy. Her husband is the head woman's basketball coach at the University of Redlands so he is going to get us some swag (athletic gear)! They are such a wonderful family. I honestly feel like the members trust us and love us being there. We then taught Tina again and talked about the baptismal convents. The work is progressing!

I learned a very important lesson this week. I learned how to apply the Atonement personally to me. Before, I have really taken advantage of it... I never really had to go through anything that has seriously knocked me to my knees EVERY SINGLE DAY, pleading for comfort and strength. Well, I had to hit rock bottom this week in order to apply the Atonement to my life. I was constantly praying, seeking guidance in knowing what to do and pleading for healing. I even fasted for my situation and what was going on in my heart and mind. I have never really felt the healing power of the Atonement until now. My Savior was there to pick me up when no one else was there. He gave me healing and comfort. And come to find out, I fixed the situation and everything is better now. That would not have happened if I didn't use the Atonement. I testify that my Redeemer lives! He is there for us when we need Him the most. I love Him with all my heart and I know that I am a choice Son of my Heavenly Father. When I leave things to Him, He takes care of me. Lean on Him for strength, use His grace that He gave to us. When you hit rock bottom, call out to Him "Lord save me". He will be there, I promise you that and I know that from every fiber of my being. He is there for us through anything! This truly is His work and I am so blessed to be a part of it. I know that my Redeemer lives!

I love all of y'all and miss y'all dearly. Keep working hard and always remember: Your Savior loves you!

Elder Tonini

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

General Conference - October 7, 11 am Central


Contrary to what the media may say, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is not secretive in its beliefs.  In fact, I would love for you to invite our missionary son to your home to hear about the Living Christ and His church.  Unless you live in Riverside, California, that may be a little difficult.  Another option is to watch General Conference at lds.org or the BYU Channel on Dish on October 7th.  Ever wonder what a modern-day prophet or apostle of God would say in 2012?  Here's your chance.

Monday, September 24, 2012

email: September 24, 2012

Subj: It was a "Dust in the Wind" Kind of Week.
Wow, that was a busy week! The weeks fly by when things are busy. I loved the pictures on the huge equipment. There is a Tongan Elder emailing with us and I showed him the pictures and said "This is how we do it in Texas!". Too funny.

Mom, I loved your insight on the Savior and what He went through. I have noticed the patience He had when He was with His disciples. I need that as I train my companion. It has been a rough couple of days with him. We don't have the same outlook on our missions right now and he has said some things to me that I have seriously come SO close to blowing up. I have a hard time dealing with crap from others. I can handle it on the doorstep but from my companion? No bueno. However, I am learning patience and this is a good learning step for me. I hit my knees and pray for the comfort and strength that comes from the Savior. That has really helped me get through this, that constant pleading with my Father in Heaven to help me. The mission is hard but this is something that I have never had to go through so it is taking some time. I think of the lyrics from "Dust in the Wind" by Kansas. There is a line that says "Nothing lasts forever, but the Earth and sky". True words! That has become my motto lately as well as "Don't Tread On Me", I have a flag hanging up in my room that says that. Good learning experiences this week, to say the least.

Goodness, where to start about this week. I got SUPER sick on Monday. We were getting ready to go to dinner and I got this MASSIVE pain in my stomach that went up through my chest into my throat. The pain was constant and I couldn't eat anything. I couldn't sleep at all that night and I felt like I was going to throw up. It was 2 AM, I am laying on my bathroom floor, feeling like death, depressed, and feeling the most alone I have ever felt in my life. As I am laying there, I looked up to my Father in Heaven and started to plea for His help. I broke down, curled up on the floor as I am praying my heart out to my Savior. As I was at the lowest I thought I could ever be, He answered me. I got the impression that I needed to make myself throw up by sticking my toothbrush down my throat to induce vomiting. When I had that thought, I rolled over and looked up and thought "what in the world?! you want me to do WHAT?". But the same thought came to my mind again so I did it. It sucked but it really did help; I felt a lot better afterwards and slept a little bit. I called the Doctor and he told me that I had gastritis: where the lining of my stomach and esophagus is inflamed and there is a lot of acid in there irritating it. I didn't start feeling better until almost Friday. I went out to work on Thursday and it seriously almost killed me. NOT FUN. But Friday came and I started to feel a lot better. I am feeling tons better now. I didn't eat anything solid for almost four days! I lived off of Pepto Bismol for a week.

On Saturday, we spent the day with Robert to give service. We went and helped to fix some plumbing with him at his grandparents house. His grandparents are a riot; straight from England! His grandfather plays golf twice a week and runs an estate business. I hope that I can be that active when I get to be 93! We helped there and then came to help Robert out around the house. There were a lot of projects he needed to get done before he left on Sunday for work. By the way, he got a job! Super exciting now that he isn't unemployed. We helped him and Carol out around the house getting projects done. It meant a lot to Carol, she is coming SO far! Saturday is the day so please keep her in her prayers as she continues to prepare to make this big step.

Sunday was seriously crazy. We went with Victor to get his Patriarchal blessing. It was Elder Johnson, Austin O'Harra and I, that's it. We talked and then he started the blessing. It went super well, and the craziest thing happened. While the patriarch was talking, he paused for a REALLY long time. I thought "what in the world is happening, why did he stop?". I looked up at him and I seriously could feel the presence of His angels talking to the patriarch for Victor. The Spirit was so strong there that it was almost overwhelming. It was such a good experience, it was like watching my own son grow up in the Gospel.

It's temple transfer and I REALLY need it. I need to commune with my Father in depth and figure out some things. I love you all and miss you so much.

Elder Tonini

Monday, September 17, 2012

email: September 17, 2012

This week has been full of ups and downs. Elder Johnson came down the Strep throat so we have been battling that all this week. Even though it wasn't the most productive week, we did get a lot done. I spent most of the week with Elder Tukuafu from Tonga, making visits and appointments. He is the funniest Elder EVER! Even though I wanted to be out with Johnson, it was fun spending time with him.

Carol is making such good progress. We had a lesson with her and Robert at one of her co-workers home that is in our ward. We taught about the Plan of Salvation and answered a lot of Carol's questions. And the most amazing thing is that Robert actually participated and was active in the discussion. When I bore my testimony about the power of His plan, I couldn't stop the tears from coming when I talked about Grandpa Tonini and how I struggled with him passing. But the knowledge that we have brings so much comfort. I blamed my soft side on Mom and Dad so that everyone didn't think I was a lame missionary!

We then taught Victor's sister, Tina on Tuesday. Before I went into the lesson, I got this impression that this was her time to get baptized and I had to ask her to make that commitment. We taught about the Restoration of the Church and how we can know the truth of all things. We invited her to baptism but she was hesitant at first. Victor then came in and bore his testimony and challenged her again to be baptized on October 13th. The craziest thing is that October 13th was the same date that I had in my mind for her to be baptized. This time, she accepted it and will be working towards getting ready. She has already read up to 14th chapter in 1 Nephi! We meet with her twice a week so she will be ready and get into the water with Victor to have him baptize her :).

On Wednesday, I went with Victor to have another lesson with a family we just got as investigators. They were originally with the Spanish elders but they want to learn in English so we got them to teach. Again, I got the impression that they needed to be invited to be baptized that lesson. We taught about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and then invited the whole family to be baptized. Sylvia, the mother, said that this decision will be a family decision; they won't get baptized if only the entire family does it. We left them with the challenge to pray as a family and read so that they can know if this is what they need to do. We will meet with them on Wednesday so we will see how they are doing.

Thursday, we had a General Authority come speak to us! Elder Paul B.Pieper came to see our mission. I learned so much from him. We need to so SEEK the elect and have them come into the waters of baptism. Don't waste your time with the others, find the elect. He also gave an idea to have the investigators answer some of their questions by themselves. I thought that was an awesome idea! He also said something that seriously brought me to tears. At first, he ripped us for not being the best missionaries we could be. He then told us that Christ really does love us, that He Himself told him that. I have never heard something that spiritual directed towards me. You know some of the hardships that I have had to over come lately and I have felt very alone... That sentence gave me such great hope and really showed me that my Savior loves me! Just talking about it again is bringing me to tears... That experience is something I will never forget.

Johnson was pretty sick again on Friday so we took it easy. We went and tried to find him a bike though with Robert. We went to multiple places looking for one in his budget. We couldn't find one so we snuck into Sam's Club for one last ditch try to find one. We didn't find one there but we ran into a member who had a bike he would give to him. He told us it was a Liahona (a missionary brand bike) and so we went and got it that night. Come to find out, it was an old Trek mountain bike! It is super sick! He got it all fixed up so we are good to go out and work. I love the tender mercies that Lord gives to His servants.

Saturday was the Spud Derby! It was our ward activity that all of Robert's family went to. We took a potato, carved it, put wheels on it and raced it down the pinewood derby track. Robert and I took it wayyyy to seriously. There was no limit so we were using his drill and screws and bolts, the whole nine yards! We carved it into a truck and called it Spud Diesel. And it took first place! It was cool, I have a video of it running the track :). Carol felt very at home with everyone, which was sooo good. She is starting to feel the fellowship of the ward, which will be key for her!

Sunday came and Carol showed up to church by herself! Robert is working up in Pebble Beach so it was just her. It was the primary program so I got to see all of my primary kids get up and speak :). This ward seriously feels like my home ward, I have been here for so long! We then had a good lesson in Sunday School which I taught. Carol actually shared two experiences that she had with the Holy Ghost. She loved it, and is super excited about Church. She is asking many questions, which is a good thing, so that she will be ready for baptism on the 29th.

God is such a loving God and I feel so humble to be His servant. Even though I am not perfect, I know that He loves me and wants me to keep working hard. When I feel discouraged about anything, I know who to turn to. When the going gets tough, just work harder. My Father in Heaven loves me and He loves each and every one of y'all personally. I know that to be true because I get to feel that love that He has for His children every day of my missionary service. I love each and every one of y'all and miss y'all dearly. Hope to hear from you soon.

Elder Tonini