Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Letter from the MTC

Drew received a letter from the MTC today (via Sister Willis) with information about obtaining his MTC mailing address (he will get it the Friday before he reports) and instructions about watching a couple of videos on lds.org.  He isn't too excited about having to get a flu shot before going to the MTC!

I found amusing this last piece of instructions:  "Only one vehicle per missionary will be permitted to enter the MTC campus."  I can envision this caravan of five vehicles with three generations (plus the girl friend) arriving at the MTC to drop off a single missionary.  Just another example of why I am grateful to be sending a missionary FROM the mission field: one less thing to worry about!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Helping the Work in Seminole

After our day trip to Lubbock to go to the temple, mission shopping, and to Corina's game, I came back home to go out with the missionaries to go see some prospective investigators. We had planned to go teach but we ended up not teaching anyone because no one was home. The elders taught me an important lesson in that things never go according to plan but it is still very important to plan.

In between meetings today at church, the elders asked if I would go on splits with them and I gladly accepted. We went out at four in the afternoon and did not return back home until seven in the evening. Elder Clark and I taught almost the entire time we were out. We stopped by Matt's house again to see if he was available for a lesson but he was not so we went and taught an investigator that is in the process of be ready to be baptized within the next two weeks. Elder Clark told me after that lesson that I had done a good job in helping teach and that my testimony was as solid as a rock. That was a confidence booster to hear that compliment from a senior missionary that has been in the field for almost his full two years. So we then went tracting because we had some time to kill before our next appointment at seven. We headed over to these apartment builds that the Elders have been dying to tract in. Our first conversation did not go well. Elder Clark talked with a Mennonite man that butted heads with us over the doctrine. However, it was cool to hear him speak German to his kids. Our next stop was a couple of doors which was the home of a young couple. They let us in openly and we actually talked to them for almost an hour and a half about spiritual topics! They were an amazing couple, very spiritual and in tune with the promptings of the spirit. When we asked them if we could come by again to teach they openly said yes, that they are always open to learn. Both Elder Clark and I had a special feeling about that family when we left their apartment; we both felt like this could lead to something wonderful for this family. That experience got me so excited to go on a mission. I had the greatest feeling during and after our talk with that family. Today really cemented why I want to be a missionary, so I can feel the spirit every single waking moment of the day and to help bring others unto Christ.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

We Came, We Conquered

We left the house a little before 7 this morning for Lubbock and didn't return to Seminole until almost 4 pm.  It was a productive and enjoyable day.

  • Drew and I went to the temple while Raena had a stake auxiliary meeting next door at the stake center.
  • We managed to find nine short sleeve shorts at JC Penny's (thanks to Sister Martin for the suggestion!)
  • We struck at out Men's Wearhouse but found what we were looking for at Dillard's.  We were able to get two suits for $500.  How anyone shops there when there isn't a sale is beyond me...
  • Lunch at Sam's Club?  Three-meat pizza for Drew, Carson, and me!
  • The frosting on the cake was the pair of Rockport shoes.  They weren't cheap, but hopefully they will last a little longer than the cheaper alternatives.
We got home in time to see Corina's basketball team play in Denver City and then we returned home as the Elders arrived so Drew could go on an assist with them.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Out with the Missionaries

Last Saturday, I went out with Elder Clark and Elder Cahoon from the branch in Seminole. We made a return visit to a man that they had found the day previous. He lives in a modest trailer, working nights to provide for his young family. We had actually woke him up when we knocked but he gladly let us in. Matt was very open to the church and the idea that the gospel brings. He was given a Book of Mormon and challenged to read it and to find out for himself if it was true. Elder Clark testified if the truth of it and the joy that it brings. Matt told us that he is going to try it out for himself, that he was going to test it and find out for himself if it's true or not. When I heard that, I got excited because that is the first step in becoming converted: be willing to try it out for themselves. So we kept talking to him and he really likes what the gospel offers and how we focus so much on the family. He's rough around the edges but he wants to learn more and will hopefully want to attain the fullest of truth that the gospel offers. We then went to visit a newly converted family to visit and check up on them. We were going to teach the daughter but she wasn't there. However, we talked with her mother and made sure that she was doing okay. It was an awesome experience to be with the Elders for the afternoon and to listen to their advice in going into the mission field.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Talk About a Temple Trip!

What a ride these temple trips have been. I've been to three different temples in three weeks! I took my endowments out in Washington DC with majority of my family there. That temple is huge; it took my breath away when I walked in. I had NO idea that the temple would be that huge and magnificent. I was blessed to have both of my mother's parents in attendance as well as my father's mother. While I sat in the endowment room, I started to feel a void come over me like someone was missing. My thought turned to my grandfather that we had lost last year to cancer. As soon as I felt that void come over me, it turned to comfort as at that moment I felt my grandfather standing behind me. Even though he was not there physically to be there with me, he was over my shoulder the entire time I was there. It truly was an amazing feeling to see all my family in the celestial room and come to hug me. The DC temple will always be my favorite temple and the temple that will always be my favorite.

On our way back to Seminole, we stopped in Houston for me to say my final farewell to everyone. I was blessed with the opportunity to go to the Houston Temple with our Houston family. Mom had not even started the session and she was already in tears. Oh my dear mother.. And people wonder why I get so emotional. It was a really good session, I went through for a family name and got his work all finished up for. I cannot thank my family and friends that came to go through the temple with me. We almost filled the session with just our friends and family. It was a testament that I am not going through this journey alone: I have all of my friends and family behind me, cheering me on. It was hard to leave Houston because that has been the place that I have called home for 18 years. However, it was the first step on this new journey of my life.

Final stop... LUBBOCK! Even though this temple was tiny compared to the DC and Houston temples, I still got the same feelings that I felt through the other two experiences. That to me, was a witness of how powerful the House of the Lord is. No matter the size or the location, it is still a place where we can feel the presence of the Lord the strongest. Mom and I go to the temple every Thursday, rain or shine. The really cool thing about this temple is that during the endowment session, you move from one room to the next until you reach the celestial room. It was super symbolic to me and really made me feel like I was actively a part of the session. It was my first time going through without Dad but I was able to hold my own. It was an awesome way to spend my Thursday and I cannot wait for the many temple trips that are ahead of me!

The next temple that I get to go through is the Redlands Temple that is in my mission! We will get to go once every three months. That will be a blessing because that will allow me to regain my focus and to keep my head on straight while I am out doing the Lord's work. As President Hinckley's father told him"Forget yourself and go to work", I too will be a willing and faithful servant of my Lord and Savior. God be with you until we meet again.

-Elder Tonini

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Success at Kohl's!

Armed with a 30% off coupon and taking advantage of the pre-Christmas sale, we went to Kohl's on Christmas Eve to make a dent in Drew's shopping list for his mission.  We left with two big bags feeling awfully successful (and economical).  Here is what we were able to find:

  • Socks (dress and athletic)
  • Ties (five conservative)
  • Slacks (five pairs)
  • Long sleeve dress shirts (two)
  • Belt
  • Sweater vests (don't laugh)
  • Rain jacket with liner (Drew LOVES this jacket)
  • Exercise shirts (two)
  • Pajamas
  • Galoshes (Totes that will slip over his dress shoes) 
We spent $428 but saved $635!  

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

And So It Begins

On December 2, 2011 we were caught completely by surprised when Drew called home and said that his mission call had arrived.  Since it wasn't submitted to Salt Lake until the Monday before Thanksgiving, we thought for sure it wouldn't come for at least another week.  As you can imagine, it was sheer pandemonium for the next two hours as we tried to get the word out to family and friends and tried to get everything hooked up for the webcast.  While we were doing that, Drew ran to the bookstore to get a big map so that he could put a pin where everyone thought he was going.  We had scheduled it to start at 8:00 pm Central and after resolving a few technical issues with web browsers, we were able to start a few minutes after that.  (If you missed it, you can watch it here.)

Drew hit the high spots as he read the call:  California Riverside Mission, report to the MTC on February 29, English speaking.  As you can imagine (or see), everyone goes crazy.  Carson was the proudest because California had been his pick.  No one at the Willis home (where Drew was staying) knew exactly where Riverside is although Grandma Shirley Tonini knew - that was where her first two children were born.  Unfortunately, it was a webcast and not a conference call so her explanation stayed in Harrisonburg, Va.

I think most young men want to go foreign but Drew quickly recognized that the call was from the Lord and quickly embraced Riverside as "the best mission in the world."  It wasn't until Melissa Willis sent us a scanned copy of his call that we saw that while he is called to teach in English, his mission president does have the ability to alter that should the need arise.

We are so proud of Drew and are grateful for the teachers, friends, and family who have been a positive influence throughout his life. He is a wonderful young man and we are excited to see him continue to grow and develop as he serves a mission.