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

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