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

Monday, September 10, 2012

email: September 10, 2012

I am so happy to hear things are going well for y'all back home. It must have been so much fun to have Grandpa there for a couple of days. School always seems to make things go by super fast. It is a good thing when time is flying, or at least it is a good thing for me!

This week has been an interesting week for me. After I found out that I am getting a new missionary from the MTC, I prepared for him to come into the apartment by cleaning it really well. He is adjusting really well. He played rugby for BYU so he is still pretty ripped. It is sooooo nice because he actually gets up to workout with me in the morning. I will hopefully start cutting weight and getting back into shape! He still has a long ways to go but he will do just fine. He is learning so much already.

We study an extra hour for comp study so that is kind of a pain but we need to do it. It is funny to hear him teach or contact people in the street because he will say the same stuff I say. I never realized that the people you have responsibility over really do look up to you and follow your example.

I have two experiences to share with y'all. The first one has to do with Carol, Robert's wife. As y'all know, we have been teaching them for quite a bit of time now. Well on Friday, we had dinner with them and we were planning on teaching a lesson to them. That morning as I got ready to study, I felt like I needed to study for someone so I got on my knees and asked who that person was. I got my answer almost immediately and it was Carol's name that came to mind. So I studied the Apostasy for her in preparation for our lesson. That morning, we had zone meeting and our stake president spoke to us and he said something that hit me so hard. He said "I see miracles happen daily because I EXPECT them to happen daily". That hit me so hard because it was going to take a miracle to see Carol's family come into the gospel. So I prayed and asked if I should invite her into the waters of baptism. Again, immediately I got an answer and it was yes. So that evening I asked her. Before the lesson, I went into the bathroom and prayed and asked to see a miracle happen. Sure enough, it happened! She has a baptismal date for the 29th! I am so humbled by what happened because it truly was a miracle that we were able to see her prepare herself to make the commitment.

The other experience I had was with our lesson with Ben. We were able to get his mother, Eva, to come going in on the lesson. We taught her and I invited her to be baptized on the first lesson. At first she was hesitant but I kept talking and I saw the Spirit hit her with a freight train. Her whole countenance changed and I could see that the words we were telling her were starting to sink in. We tried so hard to get her to pray but she wouldn't... However, it was so amazing to see the Spirit act so quickly on her.

On a sad note, Christopher M***** got ran over by a truck on Friday and had to go to the hospital. He broke his pelvis on both sides. He has surgery today to get plates and screws to fix the break. We went down to Loma Linda Hospital to go give him a blessing at midnight. We aren't supposed to leave our area but this was a spirit of the law situation. He could have gone into surgery that night or later so we got the call that he needed it now. I got so emotional seeing him in pain and he isn't even my child. The tears were flowing when I laid hands on his head to give him a blessing. I gave him a blessing as well as his mother. He is doing well now so hopefully he will start to get better.

We went tracting and it was Elder Johnson's first time going. We went with the Spanams so we could have Spanish and English together. We sent the two greenies together to go knock doors! It was awesome, Johnson almost killed me but it helped him SO much. His street contacting is so much better now from it. I love seeing him progress and grow. It is like seeing my own kid grow!

Some side notes, my Spanish is getting pretty good! I can contact someone and get their address for the Spanish Missionaries. My knowledge of the Bible is really starting to pay off because I can talk to people on the street about it. My OYMing is improving and it is from studying and being obedient. I am still struggling with the whole Taylor situation, as you could probably imagine, however things are getting better. My mindset has taken a complete 180 degree turn and I have become more focused. I hate admitting that I am wrong but... this is what is best for us. Even though it sucks like CRAZY, it is helping me become a better missionary. Plus it is making me become more reliable on the Lord because I seriously hit rock bottom... But things are looking up and all I can do now is pray. Maybe the Lord will hear that plea for two years and make that one of the blessings of being the missionary I can become. Good thing is, we will still write and she is still there for me. I could lose the romantic part of our relationship but I would be lost if she wasn't there for me as a best friend. So things are starting to look up. Happiness is a choice and that is a choice I am going to make!

I don't need anything at this moment. However, I will never object in getting something from y'all in the mail :). Thank you for your prayers and support. Love y'all and miss y'all so much!

Elder Tonini

Friday, September 7, 2012

History of the LDS Church in California

The California Riverside Mission area includes metropolitan cities expanding into citrus groves, rural landscapes with farms and ranches, high mountainous areas which receive snow in the winters and extensive desert areas with emerald-green oasis and retirement villages.

The first Saints in California arrived on the ship "Brooklyn" which sailed around the tip of South America from the east coast of the United States and landed in Yerba Buena in the summer of 1846.  From this small colony of saints and other immigrants, the city of San Francisco began to develop.

In January 847, members of the Mormon Battalion marched across the lower half of California (through Temecula in the California Carlsbad Mission) on their way to the Pacific Coast.  They helped build the city of San Diego and them marched north to Los Angeles, where they established an official American presence with the first raising of the U.S. flag in what was formerly a Mexican territory.  Later, Battalion members were constructing a mill near Sutter's Fort when gold was discovered in the mill race.  When they returned to their families in Salt Lake City, they pioneered a trail across the Sierra Nevada which would be used by thousands of immigrants streaming into California during the Gold Rush of 1849.

President Brigham Young assigned apostle Parley P. Pratt as the first California Mission president in 1850 to assist in establishing the Church.  President Young later assigned apostles Charles C. Rich and Amasa M. Lyman to carry on the work.  The Saints colonized San Bernadino in 1851.  President Karl G. Maeser presided over the California Mission in 1894.  He was later instrumental in founding Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.

Missionary work flourished in California.  There are eighteen missions in California, more than any other state with many beautiful chapels and seven temples.

What is the future of the California Riverside Mission?  Dedicated missionaries will continue to share the gospel of Jesus Christ and the message of the Restoration and help strengthen the branches, wards, and stakes   More chapels will be built, more temples will be dedicated, and more families will receive the promised blessings of the Lord.

(Included in the information packet  from the California Riverside Mission shortly after Elder Tonini received his call.)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

email: September 4, 2012

We got transfer calls and... I am going to be staying in Beaumont and I will be training a new missionary. Kinda crazy in two regards (1) I will be training when I feel very unqualified and (2) I will be staying in Beaumont. I guess the Lord has more in store for me here in Beaumont. Elder Larson went to be a Zone Leader out in Lake Elsinore where Mary lives. That will be a good learning experience for him as well. I am excited for the new opportunity and hopefully it will take my mind off of things back home. Time to shoot for the stars and help my new companion be the best missionary he can be.

It was a fun week 6 for me. We didn't hit our quota for OYMs but we got 20 lessons, teaching five on Sunday to make it to 20. We gave a lot of service this week so that kinda hurt our OYMs. We even gave service to someone on Sunday; their ox was in the mire so we helped them out. Victor is really progressing and he is seriously thinking about going on a mission. He has even taught a few lesson lately and did really well. It was his birthday on Saturday so we baked him a cake. He has seriously become my best friend out here. That is a friendship that is going to last forever. We are already making plans to go to the temple in San Diego for him to receive his endowments.

We had a good lesson with Robert's wife, Carol, on Sunday night. We were there until 10:30 on Sunday, oops. We think she is sooooo close to being ready to come into the waters of baptism. That will be amazing to see happen. The Lord works in mysterious ways and He has really prepared her to hear the gospel message. We are going over there on Friday for dinner, Robert wants me to cook so I think I am going to grill up some meat Texas style. I have NO IDEA how to cook Texas style so I think I'm going to wing it. I saw that you got the picture's from Momma O'Harra, I don't look too bad in those pictures! Austin O'Harra got his call to Guatemala and he leaves in December which is super exciting.

Well, that is all I can think of. I am learning soooo much here. I deep cleaned the apartment so it looks really nice. If I can learn to be more cleanly then my future wife will actually enjoy living with me! Hope y'all have a wonder week and cannot wait to hear from y'all soon. Keep up the hard work and remember that your missionary loves you.

Elder Tonini

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Text from Sister O'Hara

Sister O'Hara:  Hi Sister Tonini and Sister Larson, here is a picture of the Elders with the cake they baked for Victor.

Me:  Awesome!!  Thanks!

Sister Larson:  Thanks, what a great picture.
Say hi to my boy for me.  He and his comp look great!

Me:  I agree.  They look awesome!!  So glad to be a missionary mom!

Sister O'Hara:  Yes!  He is happy you got it and he has great news for you on Monday.

Me:  Okay.  I will be anxious to get his email!