Thursday, January 31, 2013

Performance Review from a Member

I received an email today from a member of the ward where Elder Tonini is serving.  It said in part:

Just a quick note to tell you what a great job your son is doing here in Moreno Valley on his mission.  He is dedicated and focused, but still enjoys his life as a missionary.  He has success because he is obedient, hard working and unafraid to share the gospel as well as is a natural leader.  He has a strong conviction of the Atonement and its efficacy in the lives of those who truly come unto Christ. 

The rest of my day in North Dakota was a little less cold as I thought about what a great missionary our son is becoming.

Monday, January 28, 2013

email: January 28, 2013

It was good to hear from y'all and how things are going. Sounds like everyone survived with Dad being gone. I wish I could be there and support everyone while Dad is gone. Even though I am going to FREEZE in Minot, I am looking forward to being there with the family. I turn twenty next month; time is surely ticking by for me. I kinda don't want to leave SoCal because I love the weather here but Minot is where home is now. I was super excited to hear that Corina made the softball team! I know she was stressing out over that so it is good to hear that she did make it and that she actually did well at her tryout. Maya has also been on my mind with everything that has been going on with her. That is exciting that he gets to come home tomorrow! I also got an email from Grandma Romney as well. I love hearing from the family and how things are going.

This week was a crazy one for me. We did exchanges Tuesday and Wednesday, had multi-zones on Thursday, it rained Friday and Saturday and I was about dead on Sunday doing double church. It was also filled with crazy highs and crazy lows too so that all added to the... funness of the week. Our exchanges went well on Tuesday, Elder Ete went into Spanish land with Elder Craig. We taught Ken again that night and had an interesting lesson with him. He came to Blake's baptism and he had many questions about it. He was comparing our service to how "traditional" Christian churches do their baptisms. Kind of a shocking thing is that he is really toying with the idea of getting baptized. The only thing that is stopping him is that he wants to know EVERYTHING about the Church. I read him Doctrine and Covenants 20:37 and told him that he doesn't need to know everything. I felt like he really took that to heart and is really starting to feel the magnitude of what this baptism could do for him. We also committed him to come take a church tour with us in the Redlands building and he accepted. It has been fun teaching him and seeing his progress.

Wednesday, Elder Randall and I had a very spiritual and crazy experience. We went and taught a lesson and only took half of our lunch so we were planning on going back home to eat and then go to our next appointment. Well, we got a referral from the Secretary of the mission for a man in the hospital that was in need of a blessing. My thought process was that we would go home, eat, then head over there after our scheduled appointment. Well, that changed after the Secretary actually called us and told us that we need to go there ASAP. So we ditched lunch (shocking, I missed a meal!) and went to the hospital. It took us a while to get into the ICU but we finally did and we got rushed to Lucio's bedside. When I saw what condition he was in, it broke my heart. He was hooked up to all sort of machines, IV's, and the whole nine yards. The family wanted us to give him a blessing so we proceeded to do so. When I went to seal the anointing, I had something happen to me that I had never felt before. I went to bless Lucio that he would get through this and fight through but when that thought came to mind, the Spirit fought me on it. I physically could not say that to him. The Spirit then directed me to release him from this life, that he would see his family one more time before he passed, and that he would be in peace when he saw his Heavenly Father. It was such a humbling and emotional experience for me. Afterwards we left the hospital, we went to the church building to use the restroom and I needed to collect my thoughts before I could return to work. I sat in the chapel, thinking about what happened and I was overcome with emotion. I felt so much love for that man, someone that I had never met before, and yet I felt true love for him. I sat there and cried... I couldn't help it, the Spirit was so strong. I went on the piano, played for a little bit which helped me to feel better, and then we went on our way. It was such a crazy experience that I will never forget.

Thursday we had multi-zones, that we were responsible for hosting. The conference went well but it was super long. I was already exhausted from the day before so it was a challenge to stay focused but I made it. After we got that all cleaned up, we went and had our church tour with Ken. That man has had a rough life... He wants children so bad but his ex-wife didn't think the same. She even practiced her own form of birth control when she found out she was pregnant and didn't even tell him. He would have four kids if it wasn't for her... I couldn't imagine what he has gone through. He likes the church and we tried to get him to come but he didn't attend on Sunday. We aren't giving up on him!

Friday was a crazy up and down day. Something happened to the truck that I had to take care of and that I stressed over for days. I got it taken care of but it was super stressful. Our lesson with Anita went well. Her whole situation is getting crazy, both mission presidents are now getting involved so we will see what happens. Plus it rained all day so that wasn't much fun to work in. Saturday was busy making visits and working all day. We taught Esther and that went well. She actually wants to move the baptism up so we will be having a baptism next Sunday! Her brother-in-law is actually going to do the baptism. It is going to be a huge Samoan party afterwards too for the baptism. And I will be spending my birthday with the family so that will be fun as well!

Sunday went well, crazy with doing splits to cover both wards but we made it happen. We had two missionary talks: one outgoing and one homecoming. They were both really good. The homecoming talk really hit home to me with what he said. I can't wait to get to know Kyle and learn from his mission experience. Our dinner was fun also, we got to share a huge family dinner with the family. Overall, it was a crazy but good week.

I love y'all and miss y'all tons. I will be watching for the package this week. Hope to hear from you soon.

Elder Tonini

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Moreno Valley Zone Conference - Jan 24, 2013

Another zone conference, another Elder Tonini sighting!

There are more pictures of the zone conference on the mission blog

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

email: January 22, 2013

Subject: Talofa!

The library was close for MLK Day so you get my email today! Let me tell you, I love getting the emails from the kids. I love hearing about how they are doing and their super busy lives. I played basketball yesterday and it seriously destroyed me. My knees and ankles are definitely paying for it today. I did get a pair of Jordans to play in, and they only cost me 7 bucks! So that was nice to play in. I actually felt like I belonged on the court ha-ha. Living there in Seminole has really opened the kids eyes to how my everyday life is in how people talk to us. We hear all SORTS of crazy things and people telling us that we are wrong. I actually had a conversation with a man outside the library that told me that we don't need Priesthood anymore. It has been a great learning and growing opportunity for the entire family!

Our week was filled with baptisms! I know, it's rough to have to have that as a missionary. I have come to realize that running a baptismal service is very stressful at times! Coordinating everything and getting everything set up can be super chaotic. We had a baptism on Wednesday and on Saturday. On Wednesday, we couldn't get into the building to start filling the font! The code we had for the building was no good. Luckily, the old bishop for the Samoan ward lives across the street so his wife was able to let us in. Blake's baptism on Wednesday went SUPER well. His whole family came, even his dad. Since we made it a mutual activity, there was a huge turnout for Blake. Elder Spencer came back from the desert to speak on baptism and I spoke on the Holy Ghost. I tried my hardest to not get emotional in front of everyone. I spoke with just my scriptures and let the Spirit guide me in what I needed to say. The coolest part of the whole experience was seeing Jeff baptize Blake. Right before they got in the water, I went in to make sure that they were good and ready to go. The three of us had a tender moment together right before they got into the water. It has been very humbling for me to see how much the Spirit has worked on these two young men. They were both very emotional before they got into the water together. Jeff did the baptism wonderfully and it was so powerful to watch. After the baptism, our wonderful Bishop decided to confirm Blake right after so that his parents could be there. He asked me to confirm him so I did. That was probably the most powerful blessing I have ever given to anyone. Again, I was trying so hard not to cry but towards the end I couldn't help it. Blake gave me the biggest hug with tears in his eyes after I confirmed him. It has been a crazy road to see how far he has come. Blake's little brother wants to come to church and everything with him but the dad isn't allowing it. The dad did NOT look happy during the entire baptism. So we will have to see how things work out with the rest of the family but right now, Blake is happy and that is all that matters.

Kind of a cool side note: after the baptism we needed a few more OYMs to get our 20 for the day so we went to a parking lot to talk to a few more people. I approached this well-dressed gentlemen and he was a limo driver. He let us in the limo and check it out! I'll send pictures of it next week :)

The baptism for Yaya went well on Saturday. I love the Samoan culture! Everyone there feels like family. The baptism was supposed to start at 7 pm but we had to wait for her uncle to get here from Long Beach so we waited for half an hour for him to get here. That was a good baptism as well, it was cool to see her uncle baptize her. The uncle looked like and talked like he just came from Compton, outside Los Angeles. You could tell he has had a rough past and cleaned up. That was a testament to me that anyone can change and that God looks on the heart and not on outward appearance. Besides the wait for their uncle, everything went smoothly. Well, except when Yaya had to be dunked twice because the first time her forearm was out of the water so she got to do it again ha-ha. She scared us on Sunday because she got there super late when we were going to confirm her but she did make it in time.

Sunday was an awesome day because Blake got the Aaronic Priesthood! Jeff gave it to him and it was so awesome to be a part of that. Those two young men are going to grow into wonderful men. Jeff's mom was about to kill me because we didn't go get her so that she could be there Jeff gave Blake the priesthood! Mom can probably imagine how that would feel to miss that with her sons... I felt so bad but the Bishop didn't go get her and it totally slipped my mind. We then had a super emotional lesson in Priest Quorum as well. It was all about father and sons. I felt for Blake because the relationship he has with his father is broken. The Spirit worked on his during that lesson and he was just as emotional, if not more than I have ever seen him. It made me appreciate Dad and who he is to me. Our priest quorum advisor is a very inspired man. He didn't know why he needed to talk about this subject but he did. That was the lesson that Blake needed. The Spirit can do so many things and it can touch the hearts of so many people. I am so grateful that I had parents who helped me to understand and recognize those feelings. I love y'all!

I hope you have a wonderful week! I love you all and miss y'all so much. I look forward to Monday's in getting to write to you and hear from you. I can't wait to talk to y'all again. Love you!

Elder Tonini

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

email: January 15, 2013

Subject: Talofa!

It is good to hear that things are going well there in Texas. I am sure going to miss my Texas... But this move is going to be a wonderful one and going to do so much for the family. It will be good to see how much Dad will grow in his profession and continue in being the man that he is. I want so much to be like him. I strive every day to become the man that my Father in Heaven wants me to be as well as what my own father wants me to be. I do worry about you Mom and how you will do with Dad being gone all week. It really has been on my mind on how you will do but as Ether tells us, by the grace of God our weak things will become strong unto us. Everything will work out!

I have the best siblings in the world, I love reading about their week. Jacob sounds like he is doing well. When will he hear back from BYU? I am hoping he gets in that school. It will do wonders for him. And I love reading Corina's letters every week. I feel like I am part of her life still. She is so beautiful! I have the prettiest sister in the world! Carson cracks me up with his letters but it means so much to me to get to hear from him during the week. He is going to be 13 here in a couple of days! Everyone is growing up so fast... I can only imagine how y'all feel as parents seeing their kids grow up. Look at me, I still can't believe that I am on my mission! Kinda crazy how fast time flies.

So my week has been a down week. I got sick two weeks ago and this last week really hit me hard. I was miserable for a couple of days. I tried to work through it but it got to the point where I was doing more damage to myself that good. I am starting to feel better, I called the mission doctor and he called in a prescription for me. My zone got hit with sickness pretty badly. The flu is hitting this area very hard and a lot of people are getting sick. Plus it has been SUPER cold, like in the high 30's so that hasn't helped. I am going to freeze in North Dakota... Good thing I will get back kinda towards the tail end of winter!

I don't remember if I told y'all but I now cover the Samoan ward along with my original ward. I LOVE the Samoan culture! Sacrament meeting was a lot of fun. They even speak and sing in Samoan. I feel like a dear in the headlights because I understand nothing of what they say. With Spanish, I can understand a little but with Samoan I can't understand a thing! But the members there are amazing. I am not sure how we are going to do two wards on Sunday with them being so close together but we will figure it out.

Blake will be getting baptized on Wednesday for the Mutual activity for the Valley View youth. Jeffery will be the young man that will baptize him. That is going to be so cool to see! That reminds me so much of when I baptized Brendan. I was such an emotional mess when I baptized him so I can defiantly relate to how those two will feel. They will be connected for the rest of their lives. We also have another baptism in the Samoan ward on that Saturday as well. The two people we are teaching in the Samoan ward will be baptized here very soon. Esther, one of the people we are teaching for the Samoan ward, will be baptized on February 9th. Happy early birthday to me :).

Something kind of cool that has been happening is that we have been getting a lot of media referrals from the MTC. We have gotten three in less that a week and that is crazy to me! I think that it is because we are getting our 20 people contacted every day and the Lord is bound when we do what He says. That was a promise to us as missionaries that if we contact 10 people per day per person then we will see double convert baptisms. That promise is defiantly real! Also, my door approach is becoming a lot more bold with people. I am done with people not even giving us the time of day to offer to bless their home and family. So I will get bold with them and help them see that we believe in Christ and in divine authority. Nothing has yet to happen but I feel like I am starting to be the catalyst for those people.

Well, I love y'all and miss y'all tons. Keep up the faith and always remember that your missionary son loves you :).

Elder Tonini

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Zone Leaders Council

Another sighting of Elder Tonini on the California Riverside Mission blog occurred this week:

(That's him right in the middle, back row)

Monday, January 7, 2013

email: January 7, 2013

I am glad to hear that things went well for y'all for the New Year. Mom, when you go to Virginia to help Aunt Annie, give everyone there a huge hug for me! Especially Drake, Luke, and Mason. Dad mentioned in his letter that y'all's church building is under renovation. That is awesome to hear! Too bad I won't be able to see it when I get back... But needless to say, that is exciting. I am going to FREEZE in North Dakota! I already freeze when it is only 45 degrees outside... But I am excited for the new change and for the great opportunity for Dad to excel in his career.

Well, transfers came and went and I am staying a zone leader here in MoVal. However, Elder Spencer is leaving to the desert. My new companion is currently serving in one of the other wards here in MoVal and lives in my apartment with me. He is a Samoan and he is my new comp and zone leader! It was pretty exciting to hear the news about him being my new comp. We already know each other and get a long very well so it will be a fun time spending it with him. I love this calling as zone leader. Even though I am not perfect whatsoever, I do like serving others. It helps me to get my mind off of things that I am struggling with and reminds me why I am here. Elder Spencer leaves this afternoon. It will be hard to see him go but he is moving on to bigger and better things. Also, one of the other Elders in my zone got called to be the zone leader out in the desert where Elder Spencer is going to. Kind of funny in that they are switching positions. Plus we are getting two new missionaries in the zone so that will be fun. Being a missionary's first zone leader is important, so that means I have to step up my game just a little bit more. Overall, transfers went well and I am excited to see how things are going to progress here in MoVal.

So about my week... It was a pretty good one besides the fact that both Spencer and I battled really bad colds. We taught Blake and Ken; they are both progressing well. Blake should be getting baptized here in the next week or so so that will be exciting to see happen. We also ate very well this week. The Bishop's son took us out to Outback for dinner and then a member took us to the Mission Inn in Riverside! Sister A*****, our primary president, called President Smart to get permission to go and take us down there to eat and to see the lights. It was so much fun! They have six-year old twins so that was quite an experience with them. We got to eat at this super nice stake house. Brother Ashley told us to get whatever we wanted so him, Elder Spencer and I got the buffet. All you can eat prime rib, pork loin, and fish! It was super good :).

I got to go back to see Jacob get baptized on Saturday! President Smart gave me permission to go back and see that happen. That was such an emotional baptism for me. I got emotional talking about baptism to him and then we both cried as I embraced him in my arms after the program. It has been so cool to see him come from rock bottom and start to fly. I also went and saw Carol while I was there in Beaumont. It was a good visit with her and she is doing well. She called me last night and told me that she wished she would have gone to the baptism of Jacob. He got up and bore his testimony to everyone. There wasn't a dry eye in the whole chapel, she said. She got to talk to him and told me that he is such an inspiration to her. She also thanked me for my influence on her family and the impact I have made. It is those kind of things that make me love my mission. I love serving and being with the people here.

Well, I love y'all and miss you so much. I think about y'all everyday and y'all are my inspiration to keep working hard. Till next week :)

Elder Tonini

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

email: January 2, 2013

So the library was closed until today so I couldn't have emailed y'all until today so here we go!

It was so good to talk to everyone on Christmas. The Lucas' were there watching the first part of the card thing that y'all did to break the news about the move. Brother Lucas thought that was very clever and that was the first thing that he asked when he saw me afterwards. I have a love-hate relationship with the calls home because I miss my family so much and I love talking to y'all but it does make me a little trunkie afterwards. However, I got over that fast because we had a lot of things to do!

Not much has changed since we last talked. Blake is doing well, still progressing and still having the desire to get baptized. His family wasn't a big fan for it... Blake had a falling out with his dad and now they aren't on speaking terms. Their only concern was that they couldn't go into the temple to see Blake get married. We actually talked to his mother on the phone to try and resolve her concern. We explained it the best we could but still she wouldn't let him get baptized when he said he would. However, Jeff (his close friend) will get to baptize him later this month so it will all work out. Both of those young men are fantastic.

That is really the only big thing that has happened in the regards to missionary work. Our goal this month is to translate our progressing investigators into baptisms so we will see how that will go. I do get to go back to Beaumont (hopefully) to see Jacob get baptized on Saturday! It will be good to see everyone and to see Jacob take this new step in his life.

I do have some bad new though... I think I have banned myself from playing basketball. On Christmas night, I got elbowed in the eye and it swelled up shut. I seriously thought that the Elder had cracked my orbital, it hurt that bad. I was enraged when he did that because he intentionally tried to go through me. Was the elbow intentional? I don't know nor will he say but none the less, he hit me hard. So I have banned myself from playing basketball because I upset people when I play hard in the paint. I got some good pictures, don't let mom see! We played volleyball for our New Years Eve activity and that was a good break from basketball.

Other than that, things are going well. I am feeling a little under the weather but none the less, I am doing fine. I have my hard days but I get through them and go work harder when I feel depressed about things. The Church is true, that is what matters! And that my Savior loves me with all His heart and He knows what I am going through. Love you all and can't wait to talk to you again on Skype!

Elder Tonini