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