Monday, August 26, 2013

He’s Been There Before

The alarm bell rings at 6:30,
I stumble to my feet
I grab my companions bedding and pull off his sheets
A groan fills the room, is it already time to arise?

It seems like just a second ago
I was able to shut my eyes
The morning activities follow- study, prayer and such
When it’s time to leave the apartment, you feel you haven’t accomplished much

“We have a super day planned,”
My comp. says with a grin
I lowly utter a faithless breath,
“Yeah, if anyone lets us in.”

With the word of God and my faithful Schwinn, we ride off in the street prepared to
Face another day of humidity and heat
It’s 9:30 in the evening, the day is almost through
My champion and I are riding home not accomplishing what we thought to do

We ride up to the mailbox, hoping to receive a lot
Only to look inside and hear my echo reverberate “air Box”
We go up to our apartment, the day is now complete
The only thing to show for our work is a case of blistery feet

It’s past 10:30 p.m. My companion is fast asleep,
Silence engulfs me all about and I begin to weep
In the midst of sadness, I kneel down to pray
I need to talk to father, but I’m not sure what to say

“Oh, Father” I begin, “What happened to us today?
I thought we’d teach somebody, but everyone was away
My hands, my aching hands- worn, hurt and beat;
If our area was any smaller, we’d have knocked every street”

“Why on missions are the days so much alike?
The only difference about today was the flat tire on my bike
Will you send some cooler weather? The heat is killing me
I sweat so bad, it gets in my eyes, it’s very hard to see”

“Why do I have to wear a helmet, isn’t your protection enough?
People always laugh at me, and call me stupid stuff
Please send us investigators so I may give them what they lack
I want to give them Books of Mormon, the weight of them hurts my back”

“And what about my family: They don’t have much to say
I’m sick of not hearing from home day after day after day
Oh Father, Why am I here am I just wasting time?
Sometimes I just want to go home, I’m sorry but that’s on my mind”

“My companion, Heavenly Father, what are you giving me?”
The way he rides his bicycle, I don’t think he can see
Now you have it, I can’t go on, I don’t know what to do
That, my Father in Heaven, is the prayer I have for you”

My prayer now finished, I stand up, then jump right into bed
I need my rest for tomorrow, we have another long day ahead
Sleep start to overtake me, I seem to drift away
Then it seems a vision takes me to another time in another day

I’m standing alone on the hill. The view is very nice
A man walks towards me and says, “My name is Jesus Christ”
Tears of joy well up inside, I fall down to His feet
“Arise,” He states, “Follow me to the shade. You and I need to speak”

My attention’s towards my Savior, total and complete
He says, “Your mission is similar of what happened to me
I understand how you feel, I know what you’re going through
In fact, it would be fair to say I’ve felt the same as you”

“I even know how you felt when no one listened to you
At times I felt not quite sure what else I could do
I know you don’t like to ride a bicycle, for you a car would be sweet
Just remember the donkey I rode wasn’t equipped with 21 speeds”

“I understand you don’t like sweating, in fact it’s something you hate
I remember when I sweat blood from ev’ry pore, oh the agony was great!
I see you don’t like your companion- you’d rather have someone else-
I once had a companion named Judas who sold my life for wealth”

“It’s hard to wear a helmet and have people make fun of you
I remember when they put thorns on my head and called me King of the Jews
So you feel burdened down by the weight of your pack
I recall how heavy the cross was when they slammed it on my back”

“Your hands hurt from tracting and knocking on doors all day
I guess when they pounded nails into mine, I ached in a similar way
It’s hard not to hear from home when your family’s not there to see
I lost communication on the cross and cried, “Father, why hast Thou forsaken me?”

“We have a lot in common, but there’s a difference between us you see
I endured to the end and finished my mission, so follow and do like me”
He embraced me with His arms and His light filled me with His love
With tears in my eyes I watched as He went back to the Father above

I stood with awe and wonder when a beep rang in my head
I listened and heard the alarm, then realized I was in my bed
My companion let out a groan, “6:30 already, no way!”
I sat up and said, “Come on, I’ll even carry your scriptures today!”

No matter what we go through,
when we feel we can’t take more
Just stop and think about Jesus Christ,
He’s been there before

By Elder Troy Whittle
Texas Houston Mission

email: August 26, 2013

As we speak, I am sitting in the family history center in the Hemet Stake Center dripping in sweat after playing three games of basketball, fielded some ground balls, and caught a brief bullpen. I love having Elder Feist here so I can have someone to throw with again. That is crazy how big the Church is there in Minot! Everyone keeps reminding me that I am 18 months in and is going home soon so home has been on my mind lately. However, it hasn't made me too trunkie so it's all good. It has been a busy PDay already. Ready for my week? Let's go.

Oh my goodness, this last PDay was terrible. I got roped into the pizza challenge. It was a pizza of 2 feet in diameter and weighed 10.5 pounds. I ate it with Elder Ringwood and we couldn’t finish it... It was super gross! It had 13 toppings and was freaking huge. We had to eat it in 40 minutes and we couldn't get up from our seats along with other rules. I got to the point where I started to dry heave. Yeah, it was bad. Ringwood even threw up in his mouth then swallowed it back down. I jumped up out of my seat so we got DQed but I wasn't gonna get barfed on! It was miserable; I've never been in a food coma like that one. I slept for three hours when we got home. I didn't eat dinner or any meals for almost two days. It was GROSS. I love pizza but that took it too far. Our dinner on Monday was with the S**** and it was fun to pick President's brain about being a California Highway Patrol officer. He does hand-to-hand combat training right now for the CHP officers but he's going back out into the field here in about a month so it'll be fun for him. Our lesson with the St****'s went well. We taught the Plan of Salvation and the family really didn't know much. Do the Elders there teach active families for the ward mission process? I think it would be a good idea to have them in our home and then have the kids invite their friends over to teach them! Every member a missionary :). We taught the family a lot about the Plan of Salvation and how important it is to be a member missionary. I still wasn't feeling that great so we came home and I slept. Bad idea with eating so much pizza haha.

Our Tuesday was actually quite productive. We had DDM which went fairly well. I kinda had to improvise because I wasn't exactly sure what I wanted to train on but it still went well. I enjoy teaching but I am getting tired of preparing something every week. Oh well. We then had lunch and went out to hit the pavement. We had a follow up appointment with a lady named Janice that we street contacted last Sunday. We went to go see her and we ended up getting into the door. When we were talking with her, she actually wanted us to come in and see some else in the house. We ended up talking to Mrs. M****, an old black lady and is from the deep south. Along with Janice, we gave them a blessing. We had a return appointment set up to come back and teach them but it ended up falling through later during the week but we got their number so we can stay in touch with them. Our dinner was with the R**** family which is always a blast. I love that family so much. Good news! Brother R**** doesn't have cancer in his chest! It was awesome. The dinner always goes well with them and we then ran off to go teach the G**** family. We taught them and then afterwards was throwing the football with Junior until it got dark. Bad news was that I ripped my pants playing ball... My favorite pair! Good thing I have Momma N**** to help sow them back up. After the lesson, we finished our OYMs and then called it a night.

Our Wednesday, sadly to say, wasn't the most productive. We had studies and then had lunch with Park H*** and then came back to their house and talked all afternoon. I know it wasn't the most effective but it was much needed. I can already feel my body and mind getting burnt out. So I called it my mental health day to justify it. Terrible, I know but yeah. Our dinner with the J****'s is always fun. I like having all four of us come to dinners. It makes things interesting. Nick is awesome; I actually knew his family in Yucuipa and his brother took a picture with Austin O'Harra in Guatemala! It was fun to see Austin again. We taught the G****'s again and they are making huge strides with them. The girls are getting comfortable with the ward and so it is a good thing to see. We get to go to the temple on Thursday! We called the R**** and they said that they would love to go with us. It was awesome because we get to ride in his 2012 Ford Raptor! Hmmmm yes! So bad news about the temple... We missed the endowment session :(. We got there and the session was full, super fast. It was insane so we didn't get to see the new movie but we did get to do sealings! That was intense. I loved it. We got a lot of work done in the sealing room. The sealer was the former temple president and he was in my first ward in Beaumont! It was good to see him again. After the session, we went to Cafe Rio and had lunch with the R**** and all the missionaries. Even though Cafe Rio started in Utah, it was still good! He then wanted to go to the Yamaha store to look for something for his bike while we were in Redlands so we made a pit stop at the Yamaha store. Oh my goodness, I was in heaven. I want a bike so bad! I saw a really nice Suzuki GSX 600 for only $3600. Oh yeah! We then went back to the house and he gave me some new slacks and a full suit! Sure love that family. We went and made some visits and then had dinner with them again! They love us. And I love them back haha. Our appointment that night was the G***'s lesson and interview. They passed and so they are good to go! Two baptisms on Sunday!

Since we didn't weekly plan on Thursday, we did that on Friday. That took most of our day and we tried to figure out how we are going to find more people to teach. It was a good weekly planning session. It will be a good next week. Elder Child is singing at the baptism on Sunday so before our early dinner, we went and practiced at the stake center. I can still read music, kind of so we were able to practice. Once again, we had our lesson with the G*** and then we walked up and down Florida, the main street in Hemet. There were some CRAZY people out there! It was sure fun. We really didn't find anyone but we were being obedient so that was the biggest thing.

Funny thing happened during the lesson. Nick J**** called like four times during the lesson. I called him back and finally got to talk to him about why he called. I guess his sister is down visiting family and she is childhood friends with the girl that I have been writing in Utah and she wanted to meet me. It was kind of weird but it made me laugh. Nick didn't know anything about that until she told him. Small world haha. I didn't get to see Nick's sister but it still made me laugh.

We found a pretty awesome Part Member Family on Saturday morning. We had been driving around with no success when I felt prompted to go by and see this lady that I've never met before. We ended up sitting down with her and having her tell us she wants us to help her grandson. So maybe that will be something good. And then today the ZLs got a referral from her to their phone haha. Listening to the Spirit always pays off. We tried to get in to teach Stevie but she wasn't there when we got there so we started to help her mom and grandmother to install a toilet and some tile. Bad idea, we didn't get to finish it but we made a good dent into the project. Our lesson with the Gu*** family went okay, I guess. I love Elder Child but sometimes he ticks me off. He threw me under the bus a couple of times during the lesson with them and it really got to me. But I got over it and we talked it out. Our dinner was with the N**** and that is always a blast. I seriously feel like a part of the family. Their family picture that Hawkins and I are in is their computer screen saver and I'm on the fridge! It's like home away from home. Our lesson with Holly and Bob went okay. They really aren't progressing so I am not sure how we're gonna fix that. After that, we ran over to Park H***'s house to burn my slacks. I hit my 18 month mark on Saturday so I got to burn some slacks. It wasn't as epic as when I burned my shirt and I threw all the pictures into the fire but it still was a good time. We then talked with Park until we went home. Wasn't a bad Saturday!

I love baptism Sunday's because it is always rewarding. Funny story with the baptism. I baptized Natalia and Elder Child did Junior. So I baptized first and mine went off without a hitch. But Junior gets in the water and Junior doesn't know his middle name so he says his sister's! Child baptizes him and we start to get dried off when Elder Wilkinson poked his head in and says that was the wrong name. We were confused because that was the name Junior told Child. Come to find out, he didn't know his middle name! Goofy kid. We then confirmed them right after the baptism so the baptism was complete. Yessir! By the time we came home for lunch, it was almost 4pm. We had lunch and had some studies and then we went off to dinner. Dinner was super funny, it was with the S**** family and they had a ball. At first it was kind of awkward but then we got to know them and then it was fun. We then taught them the Restoration with my Rubik's cube (I love that thing!) and had a good talk with them about the gospel. The mom then says that their daughter up at BYU-I wants to write the both of us! I was kind of taken back with that because that doesn't usually happen. Child was all over it though! The older I get in the mission, the less I care about mail haha but we gave them the address anyways. We got our OYMs for the day and then went back to Park’s house for some deep doctrine discussion. Ohhhh boy, I love me some deep doctrine! The Church is so true, it is insane. And that was my week. Not too bad but it could have been a lot better.

Alright well, I am super nasty and want to go shower so I'm going to close. Something I learned this week was the difference between the milk and the meat of the Gospel. The milk is WHAT gets us into the Celestial Kingdom but the meat is the HOW and WHY. All of the answers are there for us to find, we just have to mine those little nuggets of treasure. The Gospel is so simple that primary children can understand but it keeps scholars like Bruce R. McConkie and James E. Tamlage to keep searching. I am starting my senior year, I am on the last 6 months. Now I really don't have anytime to waste. Talk to Darren and ask him about the poem he sent me. It is super powerful and I can't read it without getting emotional. I love all of y'all and miss the family dearly. Talk to y'all next Monday! Time to be a finisher. Let's go!

Elder Tonini

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Photos from Brother Powell

I don't think a week goes by that I don't realize how different serving a mission is now compared to when we served.  Another example is members texting us pictures of the family that was baptized - before we even get the letter from our missionary!
Elder Tonini and Natalia G***

With the G*** family

Elder Child and Elder Tonini

Monday, August 19, 2013

email: August 19, 2013

Subject: Another week in Paradise....

I am glad to hear that everyone is doing well up there in the Great White North! Alright, ready for the week? I was a hard one for me and I will explain why but here we go: Monday was a super good day for me. I got to relax and hangout with some of the Elders back at our place with the Mackie's. We worked out and played ball at the house so it was a good day of relaxation. We taught the S**** family (that is one the ward mission process) and that was a good lesson with them. we asked if they knew anyone that they could bring on our next visit and one of the daughters said that she might invite her friend over! That would be pretty cool if we got to teach the friend. Member missionary work is the best! We then got our OYMs and ran home. Our DDM got changed to Wednesday because the Assistants would be there so they asked if they could change it. So that gave me another day to get ready for the training! I would have one of the APs there so I needed to make it a good one haha.

Tuesday was filled with making visits and going through the ward list to find those part-member families (PMF) that have been hanging low and we haven't harvested them. We went through almost five names and got information on them so it was a good use of morning time. We did the same in the afternoon after lunch and then ran off to a baptism interview for the Sisters. A member OYMed a couple at the ATM and they are now getting baptized three weeks later! Both of them are from Kenya but came to Atlanta before coming to Hemet. It was fun to get to interview them. Both Michael and Jennifer were baptized that Saturday! I love being the one giving the interview because I get to know the people before they are baptized and hear how the gospel has affected them. It's awesome. After that, we ran to the C***'s to have dinner with them. It was boys’ night and so Brother C*** grilled up some burgers. It was super good! It's fun having dinner with all four of us. After dinner, we went to make more visits but then ended up going to the Relief Society President's house to pick up a backpack for Junior for when he starts school. We talked with them about how that family is going and what they would like us to do to help them. The E****'s showed up and I came to find out that they had lived in Corpus Christi for a while! It was fun to get to talk to them about Texas. The longer I am in Cali, the more my Texas Pride grows haha. We already had our OYMs and so we went home for the night and got ready for DDM the next day.

We had a District Leaders’ Council and a DDM with the APs being there with us on Wednesday. My training went well. I wrote up a quote on the board that said, "Faith is the power, Obedience is the price, Love is the motive, the Spirit is the key and Christ is the reason." I applied that to how we can find the elect here in our areas. I had the district practice the sixty-second lesson one overview. It was good to have them work on that and to perfect it. I made a pretty big issue on breaking the culture of pride that we have in the mission right now. We have to break that cycle NOW. It was good because I feel like our APs have some pride issues. But it was good, we got a lot of work done in the DDM. After that, our appointments fell through and so we tried to be productive and we ended up teaching two Hispanic ladies on their driveway. Don't know what's gonna come of it but it was a good lesson. We ended up sitting outside the G***'s house and they ended up coming out so we got to talk with them and set up another appointment. It was inspiration to go and sit outside their house in the car to wait for them. We had dinner with the W**** family again and it was funny to have the AP there with us. It was a good laugh. Even though they don't have much, they try and do their best to feed us. After dinner, we ran to find a potential PMF but we couldn't find it so we ended up calling the Elders’ Quorum president. Before I could even ask him, he told us to come over and help with the home teaching list. It was good and we got a lot of progress done in the ward. We weekly planned on Thursday and then went to visit our potential investigator. We met with Kent, one of our PI's and boy did we have a crazy lesson with him. He is a guy from India but he was born in Kenya. He was pretty colorful when he was talking about the Muslim's and other things that went on in his life. It was crazy! He was swearing up a storm and poor Child was freakin' out because his ears were burning haha. Our dinner was super weird... She is a recent convert but she doesn't have any teeth... She played this weird Anime game on the PS3 and then served dinner. During the dinner, she turns and slaps her kid because he threw food on the floor. It kind of took me by surprise because she slapped her kid! We ran off to our lesson with the G****'s that night and it went well. They kids are progressing nicely and they parents are making it back to church. We finished up our OYMs and then headed home for the night.

We had a lesson with Sam H**** and talked about his non-member fiancée and then talked about family history. The fiancée was watching the Little League World Series and it was fun to get to talk to her about it. We ran off from Winchester back into Hemet to meet Elder Spencer for DQ. I can't believe that he is going home soon. He has become my best friend here out in the mission. Our lesson with Stevie went well and then had dinner with the Bishop and his family. We have such a good ward, it is awesome. Our lesson with the G****'s went well and Shelli H**** came with us and she was a huge help. She is the the RS Presidency and so she was able to connect with Natalia and Anita.

Craziest thing happened though before we left. A Mustang rolled up to talk to Shelli and I felt impressed to get out of the car and talk to them. Come to find out, they were missing their two 12 and 13 year old daughters. Being out like that at 9 pm by yourself in Hemet is a bad idea so we started to help find them. While we were out looking, Elder Child said a prayer to find them and seriously five minutes later, the father gets a call from them that they were back home. Miracles never stop happening. Saturday was filled with visiting people. We stopped by the Go****'s to see them and had a good lesson with them. She even gave us money for lunch! So we ran into Hemet and got pizza with Smith and Tafoya. We had an... Interesting talk with them haha it was fun. We then had our lesson with the Gu*** family and taught the Plan of Salvation. We took Brett M**** and his buddy to come teach with us so it was good. The girls were crazy but that's okay. We then had dinner with Denny H*** and his family and he then drove to pick up the G****'s to go to a baptism at the stake center. The Echo Hills ward was having six convert baptisms at once! Super crazy. They really liked it and they are on for getting baptized on the 25th of this month. Our lesson with Holly and Bob is always fun haha. Bob is the biggest hippie ever! I am not sure where they are progressing to but we are going to keep trying.

Sunday was filled with meetings and church services. The ZLs had a baptism after the block so that was good to attend. We then had dinner with the D*** and talked football and baseball with him. Sister D*** wasn't too happy with me because I didn't call in advance so she had a mother moment with me... It was good because I needed it! Sunday was rough because I am handling a situation with the Sisters and teaching a YSA investigator that has gotten out of control. The Elders are teaching her and we are worried about their safety and making sure that everything happens the way it's supposed to. We also got kicked out of a parking lot too so that was a fun way to end the night. Child and I had a good heart-to-heart last night. We both have been struggling and we talked about it and got it out into the air so we can help each other. It was good way to end a Sunday. Oh, and one of the Sisters went to the ER last night because she had an allergic reaction to walnuts so that was fun too.

Overall, I am doing okay. Just grinding away and trying to stay motivated. It can be hard sometimes but I am learning how to make that happen. I love y’all and miss the family dearly. I'm now off to try and eat five pounds of pizza! Wish me luck! It'll be crazy haha. Good thing I'm a fat kid and can eat a ton. Love y’all and talk to y’all next week.

Elder Tonini

Monday, August 12, 2013

email: August 12, 2013

Subject: Another week in paradise.

I am glad that yall like Mondays. Guess what? I do too haha. It's a good break from the day to day grind so it's good to have this breaks. Living out on Winchester, it makes planning even more important because if we don't plan accordingly, we blow through miles so we have to work with that. Yes, we have been dealing with wildfires but none of them have come into the Valley. We live right next to the Hemet-Ryan airport and so we have the Cal Fire planes buzz our house all the time. I love seeing those bird fly! It makes me want to become a pilot again. I've played with the idea of pursuing that dream but that decision can wait until I finish with the Lord's work. My headaches have been doing better! I identified that it is my allergies that trigger the headaches. I wear my contacts every day as well so that helps. Yes, I am learning to live within my means. It is hard sometimes but it is good practice for later in life. Alright, ready for my week? Here we go.

We had a good Pday on Monday. After we emailed and shopped, I went to the driving range to him some balls. It was super relaxing and much needed. I got some good sun on my arms so that is always a plus haha. Our dinner was awesome! It was with our new Elders Quorum president, President F****. He has such an awesome family. It is super fun that we get to eat with all four missionaries at dinner. President Smart isn't a big fan about that but until we can get a separate calendar then that's how it's gonna happen. Sister F**** was a star soccer player at her university so we got talking about college sports. I don't know what I want to do when I get home and that's a possibility that I've toyed with doing. We then taught the family the Restoration and I used my Rubik’s cube again to teach it with the kids. Our main idea of teaching was to ask President if he knew of any home teaching families we could go see. So we got some good names from him that we are going to go see. We got our OYMs and called it good for the night after that.

We had our usual DDM on Tuesday and it was weird to train again as a district leader. It's been almost a year since I've been one so it was good to train. This was a pretty powerful DDM and I want to share it with y’all. So I started the meeting with a testifying role play to help the missionaries focus on testifying when they teach. The companionships sat down together and they testified to one of their investigators that another missionary was role playing. I stood behind them and I would tap the missionary on the shoulder when they would cut their companion off and continue on testifying. It was a good role play to start of the meeting. What was really good was what I trained on. I trained on the true meaning of Charity and how we need to implement it. Something that I have learned here is what the true meaning of charity is. The true meaning of it is SACRIFICE. That's taking the primary answer of "the true love of Christ" to another level. I then had us read 3 Nephi 28, which reads:

1 And it came to pass when Jesus had said these words, he spake unto his disciples, one by one, saying unto them: What is it that ye desire of me, after that I am gone to the Father?
2 And they all spake, save it were three, saying: We desire that after we have lived unto the age of man, that our ministry, wherein thou hast called us, may have an end, that we may speedily come unto thee in thy kingdom.
3 And he said unto them: Blessed are ye because ye desired this thing of me; therefore, after that ye are seventy and two years old ye shall come unto me in my kingdom; and with me ye shall find rest.

The key word there is MY KINGDOM. Now look at what he says to the three others.

6 And he said unto them: Behold, I know your thoughts, and ye have desired the thing which John, my beloved, who was with me in my ministry, before that I was lifted up by the Jews, desired of me.
7 Therefore, more blessed are ye, for ye shall never taste of death; but ye shall live to behold all the doings of the Father unto the children of men, even until all things shall be fulfilled according to the will of the Father, when I shall come in my glory with the powers of heaven.
8 And ye shall never endure the pains of death; but when I shall come in my glory ye shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye from mortality to immortality; and then shall ye be blessed in the kingdom of my Father.

Christ makes it pretty clear that there are two different kingdoms. Now where are those two kingdoms? I don't know but it is pretty clear that we have to be willing to sacrifice even our exhalation to receive all that the Father has. Now that's deeper doctrine but that hit me hard and made me realize that I need to work as HARD as I can if I want to get what the Father has. I then closed with a poem that brought me to tears every time I read it. Overall, it was a good DDM and good things are going to happen when we put these things into practice in our missionary lives and in our personal lives. We then had the craziest dinner appointment. Our dinner was in Winchester with some members who live in a home with a ton of nonmembers living there. Towards the end of the dinner, the members of the home freak out and run outside and there was a big ruckus outside. All of a sudden, there was a HUGE man standing in the window and he stared right at me. The Spirit INSTANTLY left. It was terrifying. He didn't mess with us when we left but it was crazy. Our appointment that night was with Sam S***** to go over home teaching list. It was good, we got some names to go see so it was good. We went and saw a part-member family that night but we didn't see the non-member husband. I guess he got really offended by missionaries so we didn't get to see him. But it's okay, we had a good lesson with the wife. It was a fun way to end the night.

We got a call on Wednesday from our part-member family the night before and said that her husband wants to show off his food storage to us. So we went over there and started to build the relationship with him. Our lesson with the G**** family went well. We put the two kids on date for baptism! We testified and they agreed for the 25th. It was an awesome lesson. Our appointment fell through for the night and so we went out for priesthood action night with the EQ. Elder Child got his first run in with marijuana! It was hilarious! Those boys were rollin' up some big blunts and he had no idea what was going on. We then talked with a crazy less-active lady that told us she used to be a stripper and everything in between. It was a crazy night to say the least!

All Thursday morning, I had to deal with a situation with the Sister who are serving in the YSA ward. It was trying to get them to teach a YSA girl but the elders are teaching them when they shouldn't be. That took all morning and drained me emotionally and spiritually so working for the rest of the day was tiring but I made it. Our dinner was with my favorite family, the R****. I love them to death! Sister R**** calls herself my adopted momma haha. She even asked about the girl I left back home! It was a good dinner with them. We saw Holly T**** again and taught Bob. He is such a funny guy! He has no teeth and every time we say goodbye or see him, he gives us the biggest hugs. It was funny.

Friday was filled with finishing weekly planning due to not being able to when I had to deal with the Sisters situation. We did see the G**** family again and taught them. We read out of the Book of Mormon. At the end of the lesson, they expressed to us that the lesson was exactly what they needed. It is an awesome feeling when you listen to the Spirit and act on things like that. We then had a lesson with Sister P**** and that was fun to get to know her. She plays the ukulele like I do! I saw hers on the table and I asked to play it and she said of course. She even complemented me on my style too. Our lesson went well, it was good to get to know her.

We had our exchange with the Zone Leaders on Saturday so I did all that I could to stay as productive. Our lessons in the morning fell through but I did get to do a baptism interview with one of the Sister's investigators. She has had a very rough life and she knows that this baptism will do so much for her. It was cool to hear her testimony in that interview. The best part of the day was when I got to see Elder Spencer. He came up to Hemet to help one of the Sisters move with their truck and we were getting a new phone so I got to see him. I love that man, even though he is from Utah and loves the Yankees. I won't hold that against him haha. He goes home next month! That is crazy so I love getting to see him again. Our dinner with Sister M**** was good and our lesson with the G**** family was funny. One of the daughters is special needs and in the middle of the lesson, she lets a long fart go. It was pretty funny. It was a funny way to end the night.

Sunday was interesting for me. I got overwhelming feelings of worthlessness, not being good enough, you aren't working hard enough, and other things like that. That was a special sacrament meeting for me because I really went to the Lord to see where I am with Him. I am in a good place with Him, I felt that as answer, but there is always room for improvement. So this week is going to be an awesome week for us. We went to a family party for dinner and then had a lesson with Sister C****. We heard she has an unbaptized granddaughter but she doesn't live there with her so it was a bust. The funniest thing happened that night though. Child and I got on a debate about Inception that lasted about an hour. It was super funny and actually quite fun. It was a good way to end the night.

Other than that, things are going well with me. I still have my usual struggles but I work every day with them. Child is doing well. He cracks me up, the other day he asked if he could wear my other pair of Oakleys in the car. Of course, I let him and he's worn them every day since. Now he dresses like me on pday and even asked to wear one of my hats! He even took my Oaks and put them on the brim like I do. He's a good kid, he's like my little brother now that I get to teach and train. But other than that, I am doing fine. I am going to be a finisher, just like how Geoff preaches. Everyone reminds me how long I have left so I have to be a finisher. I love y’all and miss the family a ton. Have a good week and know that this work is REAL! Be a missionary this week and give out a Book of Mormon! Always be a member missionary!

Elder Tonini

Monday, August 5, 2013

email: August 5, 2013

I emailed on Wednesday of last week so this may not be the longest email but we had a lot go down this week. Ready for my week? Let’s go!

So after I emailed on Wednesday, we ran off to see the R****' family. Sister R**** got Hawkins and I speed Rubik’s cubes for our Restoration lesson and so we went over to see them. I can't remember if I mentioned that the doctor's found a tumor in Brother R****’ lung so they have been struggling with that recently. They actually called on Tuesday night to have us come over and give him a blessing so we went over there Wednesday afternoon to see him and give him a blessing. I love that family; I have a huge soft spot for them in my heart. After that, we ran to get some OYMs and went to the C***'s for dinner. We ate some awesome chicken and then had correlation with us four elders. It was a long week in regards in getting the area all organized and ready to go. We did though pick up a new part member family. The G**** family has two kids that aren't baptized and have been coming to church every week since they moved in to the ward. Hopefully we can get them baptized this month! Later that night, Sam A*** called me and said he would like a blessing because he's getting anxious about leaving for his mission so I sat down with him and we talked. At the end, I gave him a blessing. It was a good way to end the night.

Thursday was planning day and we seriously planned all day long. We had to go through and split our ward list for the two wards. So we sat down and punched every address into our GPSs and made the decision if it was on the north or the south side of the 74.That took all day to get done basically. I set an appointment to go by and see John P**** again and to introduce his family to the new elders. It went really well, John said that he would be open to being baptized so they are going to keep working with him. Our dinner was good: Chinese food with fried chicken haha. That night, we sat down with the bishopric and went over the ward list again. We discussed names and families and got a lot down for the area. It was Brother P**** that sent the pictures to y’all. Stay in contact with him, his family is awesome! Although we didn't get that much proselyting in, we did get organized so it was a good use of time.
Brother Langston, Brother Porter, ET, Elder Child, and Bishop Mackie

Elder Child and Elder Tonini

Elder Wilkinson, Elder Figueroa, Elder Child, and Elder Tonini

We had our zone meeting Friday morning and it was weird having the zone leaders call me the "patriarch" of the zone. Then Johnson made some smart aleck comment and said "matriarch" under his breath. That kid... Anyways, it was a good meeting and we got a lot done. It is very humbling to have the responsibility over the two sister companionships and being the district leader in starting a new zone. We are going to work! I am super excited. I committed to the zone and to the Lord that we will have two baptisms this month so we gotta get working! After ZDM, we went to Red Robin to eat. We then had dinner with the K**** family and to see them again. Stevie is always fun to be around. We got there a little early and I sat down to play Skip-bo with her. It was super fun! She was talking some smack and it was fun to play. The ZLs didn't like it too much but they'll be okay haha. Our lesson at 7 pm fell through so we checked up on some people and then contacted down the street. We found two potential families that we are going back to see on Saturday. That night, we had a lesson with a family we thought would be a potential part member family. Come to find out, they were. The wife is super less-active and her live-in husband isn't a member. They live in the middle of NO WHERE in Winchester so it was an exciting time trying to find the house at 8 at night. We find it and had a good lesson. They are super funny together and they have 11 dogs living in the house with them! Bob is the biggest hippie and he doesn't have any teeth. It is a riot. I am not sure if anything is going to come of it but we are gonna keep teaching anyways.

Oh goodness, Saturday was busy. We went back to see the two families and got in to both doors! We left a blessing with both of them and invited them to baptism. They didn't accept but they agreed to have us come back. We taught them about the priesthood and a brief thing about the Restoration of the Gospel. We then back to the stake center to work on the ward list again. We got it all split and ready to go. It seriously took almost four hours. We forwent lunch and went straight to dinner at Hometown Buffet with the R*****'s. I stuffed myself and I felt a lot better after that. After dinner, we picked up Denny H and ran off to our two lesson for the night. We saw an elderly lady named Francis W. She has had two strokes and her body is starting to shut down. She is a spiritual giant though! We talked for an hour and got to know her a little bit more. She is almost blind but yet she can still function. I could've talked with her for hours. After her, we ran over to the T**** family to get to know them. They are an active family with eight little kids! I did the Rubik’s cube lesson and they loved it. Every kid wanted to touched the cube and play with it. It was a fun lesson to teach; it was a fun way to end the night.

Sunday is always a long day for us with meetings. We had our correlation meeting with Brother C*** and then had our ward meetings. I struggled with it for a little while because the spotlight was on the ZLs and how they are awesome missionaries and everything. I felt like I wasn't that important; that all they cared about was their work and not mine. But as church started and sacrament meeting came around, I had an interesting thought come into my mind. When Christ was in the pre-existence, He offered to go down and perform the Atonement with no glory for His name. That struck me because that is how I am kind of feeling right now. It gave me strength and gave me a lot of comfort. We all sat on the stand so we could be recognized and bear our testimony's. Being me, I couldn't hold back the tears when I got up to bear my testimony. My heart was so full and that is just came. I have learned so much about the TRUE meaning of charity and that really struck me hard when I got up to speak. After the meeting, Sister V*** pulled me aside and with tears in her eyes told me that she wishes her son could be as good as a missionary as me when he leaves in September. Now THAT was humbling to me; it showed to me that I AM making an impact on the people I meet and come in contact with. The rest of church went well and we ran home to take lunch and do some personal study. We had dinner with the V*** family and then went to get OYMs. I OYM’ed a guy outside of dinner and ended up teaching him of the Restoration. Even though he didn't accept it, we did answer some questions of his. That night, we went to Sam's setting apart for being a missionary in Portugal. I love that guy, I am going to miss him terribly! But yeah, that was my week in a nut shell. Elder Child is doing well and I love living with the Mackie's. I now live with my pet pitbull Porter! I love that dog to pieces; it's like living at home again. It is funny; Elder Child is from the Mormon Bubble so it is taking him some time to get used to everything. He is a good Elder and I love him to pieces already.

I love all of y’all and I hope things are going well. Keep me updated with everything! I want y’all to know that I know my Savior lives and the He loves everyone. He knows me personally and I am glad that I am starting to understand what charity really means. I love being here and I love all of y’all! Have a wonderful week!

Elder Tonini