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