Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Mission Accomplished

A few pictures from Elder Tonini's joyous homecoming at the Minot International Airport:

An anxious mamma
He made it!
I think she missed her brother.
(Almost) all reunited again.

Pictures from the last weekend in the mission

Thanks to Elder Feist (from Minot, ND) for sharing these pictures:

Elder Feist and Elder Tonini
Nice way to spend your last weekend on the mission!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Good Bye to the Mission Home

Elder Tonini's final appearance on the California Riverside blog.  Here are the pictures:

Sister Smart, President Smart, Elder Braithwaite, Elder Tonini, and Elder Moser

Elder Tonini and Elder Braithwaite

Monday, February 17, 2014

"I love you God... You're the best!" - Ryker G

I was SUPER stoked about Jake getting his mission call! I did get to see it. I randomly check the Justin.tv account and sure enough, there is was! I tell everyone I meet that my brother got his mission call! Sounds like he is doing well, I sure am going to miss him though. We won't get that long to be together either so that kinda stinks... Corina told me the story about her coming home from work twice to see Jake open his call. I am glad that everything worked out! Hopefully by the time the next one leaves, we'll have the video streaming technology figured out. Ready for my week? Leggo!

I had a super fun birthday this year with missionary friends and family. We went to Skyzone, an indoor trampoline park, which was pretty legit. There was a huge foam pit that we started out on and then we went to the hoops to dunk on them! It was a flash back to Slam Ball days. I got my back flip down and I was flying high! It was super fun. There was a volleyball net up with the tramps and so we tried that for a bit. It was quite interesting trying to time your jump to hit the ball. We then played some dodge ball and that was LEGIT. All eight Elders against 15 plus 13 year old kids and we won :) naturally. You can't stop the power of God, even on the dodge ball court! Haha we then had dinner with the P*** family and it was a riot. Brother P*** has a VERY dry sense of humor so that was enjoyable. We then went to the batting cages for my birthday/FHE with Allison and Nick. It was super fun! That was the most physical activity I have had in months and before the day was over, I knew I was gonna hurt for a few days. I even got a wood bat as a birthday present to myself haha I cannot tell you how great it felt to hit again. It was an awesome birthday for sure.

Oh man, Tuesday was rough for me. I woke up that morning to work out and I couldn't move... I was that sore! I was pretty funny. I haven't had my abs or back hurt like that in a long time. That's what I get for not hitting in forever and a day! Dale Pa***'s picked us up because it was temple day so that was cool but the icing on the cake was when I got to see Elder Child and he gave me some awesome news. Remember John Ph***? The football coach that I taught in Hemet? Well, he moved to Menifee and he is getting baptized this Sunday! And he wants me to baptize him! MY LAST SUNDAY AS A MISSIONARY! I was about in tears because that family means a lot to me. We took some pictures and then went to lunch with Dale. I love that guy but he can say some of the oddest things... In and Out was good and then we had dinner with the M***' family where Elder Anderson patched his tire. We stopped to teach Allison and Nick that night so that was good too :)

So we had DLC and DDM on Wednesday due to the temple on Tuesday and that was a good time too. I trained over the priesthood and intelligence and how we need to magnify our calling. Some of the sisters just looked at me with a blank stare but then Sister Jenkins made the connection and that made the icing on the cake. Sister Anderson heard it in Hemet when I first gave this same training and she just rolled her eyes when she heard what I was training on haha. After that, we had lunch and then went out to make visits and contact. We ended up teaching these two guys and we taught them almost to the bus stop. That was a good time because then we had to book it home for the R*** to take us to dinner but they never showed... I went and called them from the payphone and they told me the bad news that Jake's call didn't come so it'll be on Thursday. Before I called them, I got super depressed because I wanted to see the R*** and Jake opening his call. We were supposed to go on a split with our Ward Mission Leader but he got held up at work. It was a crazy day but we made it out alive and that's all that counts.

We had breakfast with the Foothill Elders and then went and saw Sister Sanchez at her salon. We gave her an update on things and on her family. After that was some lunch and then weekly planning. It was weird planning for my "death week" but we made some good goals and got ready for the week. We rode to go see Richard for the first time in forever and had a good lesson with him. He showed up his new car and the "essentials" in his trunk that consisted of a pack of water and boxers... That won't get you anywhere! We then went to dinner with the Ji****'s and Rodney came! We taught him after we had dinner. But before we taught Rodney, I got to watch Jake open his call! It was freaking awesome :). I love that kid to pieces! After that, we saw Allison and Nick again to teach them. Allison’s 21 year old sister wanted to see pictures of us and so that was interesting. She'll even be over on Sunday for a lesson too haha. We exchanged that night and I got to spend some time with Elder Gordon before we crashed.

Friday was busy! We worked out in the morning, studied and then went out. We stopped at the gas station to get some air and I ended up talking to Robert, our favorite homeless man. I ended up teaching him and giving him a Book of Mormon. After that, he asked if I could buy him a drink so I went in and bought him two Gatorade's and gave him the change. It was a small thing but it meant a lot to me to do that. We then rode off to a potential investigator and ended up leaving a blessing on Rick and Karen in their home. It was really good! Karen is looking for something so we are gonna keep working with them. Their house butts up to the church so that is convenient haha. We then went to lunch at Subway and went back out to work. We made more visits and then stopped to see Paul Ry***. We talked to him for a bit and then set something up to teach his mother this week. We then had a bomb lesson with Tom which was super spiritual. We'll get Tom soon! Dinner was with the Morris' family and we had Samoan food! It was super good too. They were a fun family to eat dinner with. We then stopped to see Cale but he was in Orange County with Kim and so we taught Sister Clarke instead. We taught her about helping with Cale and making progress with him. Our last stop was Nick and it was a cool because Nick is gonna let us leave him with commitments to read and pray and so we taught about the Book of Mormon and prayer. Ryker, his son, said the prayer and he said "I love you God, you're the best!" I couldn't help but laugh but that six year old taught me something very important that night. Our prayers should always be like that! It was an eye-opener for me and it made me love that little kid even more. We exchanged back to find out Elder Anderson got super sick and so we are still dealing with that but he will get better soon.

We went to some yard sales on Saturday while we made visits. We saw crazy Eddy again and he was wearing a homemade shirt with a cross on it! Plus he pulled out Church paintings and he prayed with us in the middle of the street. Yup, he still isn't changing... We had lunch and then went back out to make some visits. We rode to see Izzy when I tried to contact a man and he ignored me then cussed me out. He called me profanities and so I kept talking to him haha. I am tired of people doing that to me so I am going to kill them with my charity. I knocked on the door and about got attacked by Izzy. I am pretty sure she has a thing for me because she is CRAZY about me. She can't say my last name and so she calls me "Tohini". Not even close! Haha we then had dinner with the A****'s and had some super good Porterhouse steaks. It was super good! Everything fell through that night so we finished up our OYMs.

Sunday was not a good day because I was up at 4 am and couldn't go back to sleep. I think it is my anxiety of everything starting to kick in. The "dry" council spoke in church and I slept through it all because I didn't sleep very well the night before. I'm glad Dad isn't a boring speaker! I got to teach sharing time in Primary so I spent two hours with the kids. I love the primary kids so much! We then ate lunch and then off to the C****'s to have a mini FHE and read the Book of Mormon together with their family. After that, we ran off to Pu****'s for dinner and that was a ton of fun. I love their kids! Little Christy wanted me to sit next to her and she held my arm the entire time. Yup, I can't wait to be a dad. We told mission stories and then ran off to Allison and Nick. Her sister was there and so we told more stories and taught about patience. I am going to miss that family so much. It’s gonna be way hard to leave...

Well, that's my week. Keep me in your prayers as my anxiety is gonna be out of control this week. But I will be fine. I gotta sprint to the finish and not let the Adversary get to me. I love y'all and I will talk to y'all one more time before I am home!

- Elder Tonini

Monday, February 10, 2014

"I just threw a bike over the wall into a dumpster... What in the heck was I thinking?!?" - Elder Anderson

Thank you for the birthday wishes! Oh my goodness, I about jumped out of my seat when I read Jake's email about him getting his call! Ready for my week? Leggo!

Monday was SUPER busy for us. We left the house around 9:30 that morning and didn't come home until 9:30 that night. We were running the entire time! We went to some stores and then to email. We went to the mall and walked around then we went to dinner with Sister B***. We went to our hole in the wall diner that Elder Anderson and I love. It was a good time with Sister B***. The crazy thing that we saw on the way home was when we went to OYM this guy on the side walk, he was getting ready to shoot up heroine, tourniquet, needle and everything. Pretty crazy way to ride home to!

Tuesday was started out by having interviews with President Smart. However, while I was waiting for my turn, I got talking to Sister Pierce and I found out some awesome news! Remember Ken E***? I baptized him while I was in Moreno Valley. Well, I guess that she is starting to talk to him now! I was so stoked to hear about that! We actually planned on going to lunch on Saturday so that will be good. After interviews, we went and taught Tom again and we are starting to make some headway with him again. We are having a good sit down lesson with him so that will be good. After that, we had to run off to dinner but on the way there, we taught five street lessons and got a few return appointments that will hopefully pan out this week. Our dinner was with Dale P**** and it was a lot of fun. He is a sportscaster and we talked a lot of baseball. Coolest thing, he gave a triple combination to Brad Lidge! Super sick! Jake would've died to talk to Dale haha. He told me to continue my dream of playing professional baseball and to keep working on it. So who knows that will happen. We had finished our OYMs and so we went home to study.

Wednesday was DDM and I trained using baseball as my teaching tool.. I taught about closing deals, as in closing people for baptism and so I used the analogy of a closing pitcher on a baseball team and how we need to be that closing pitcher. It was so much fun! My poor sisters had no idea what I was saying haha. There is only one sister that would've understood me but she's in Menifee now. Anyways, it was a good teaching tool and I think that everyone understood my point I was trying to make. We went to go see Izzy, who is a recent convert in the Spanish ward that wants to come to the English ward now. We have been teaching her and we taught her for the first time so that went well. We then OYM’d a lady from San Antonio and we helped her with some stuff as she is moving into the complex. We were going to come back for a blessing but it could turn into a bash. Joyful. We then taught Allison and Nick again and we came just right at the right time. It's funny how the Lord sends us to help other people. Allison really needed us and we felt prompted to come over and see her. We were late leaving her house to get to our dinner but we got to Cale's for dinner in time. Both of us were outta breath but that's the way life is. We taught Cale and Jimmy and then headed home for the night. We had gotten out OYMs earlier that day so we were good for the night.

We taught Ivan again on Thursday and we basically had the “drop” lesson with him. However, he is coming today to the trampoline park with us for my birthday so that'll be fun. Anyways, we basically told him that we can't keep coming if he isn't going to make the effort on his part so we have to part ways. It was all right though; he took it well. After lunch, it started to rain after we tried to see Izzy again and her neighbor and so we had to put the rain gear on and go back out. We rode up to Paul R***’s house to see how he was doing and we ended up leaving his Mother with a blessing! Hopefully we can start teaching her too. It was cold and raining... Not cool with the way I have been feeling lately but I powered through it. We had dinner at home then we went to see Allison and Nick again. We go by there every night for daily contact and to make sure that they are doing okay. I sure do love those little kids though! We then ran over to see William and his family but once again... He wasn't home so we talked with our ward mission leader’s wife.

Friday was very interesting. We made some visits that didn't happen but then we stopped by the Goodwill to see if there is a suit for me to get so I can burn it for my two year mark but Elder Anderson ended up getting some black cowboy boots! Ahhh yeah! Then on the way home, Elder Anderson's tire busted and we spent all afternoon trying to fix it. With no success, we had to use the Frankenbike and go to dinner. Long story short: the tire exploded in my face and sent brown liquid everywhere on us. Elder Anderson was so upset that he threw it over the dumpster enclosure and then we walked off. The tire sounded like a gun going off as it sprayed us with nasty crap. We then had to go use the pay phone down the street to call our dinner and in the process, I get frisked by a drunk old Mexican guy. Yup, wasn't a good day. So we then finished up with Allison and Nick and called it a day.

Saturday was AWESOME! We then went to a child of record baptism with them and had a good time there. Elder Anderson has been getting these really bad headaches so we had to stay in for a while so he can get over that. We then made our visits and had dinner with the Johnson family. It was super good, they are an awesome family. Brother Johnson disk golfs! Super sweet!

Sunday was good and it was quite uneventful – in part because we didn't have anyone come to church. All in all, it was an okay week. A lot of ups and downs but I have been relying on my Savior A LOT. I sure do love Him! I love y’all and thank y’all for the birthday wishes!

- Elder Tonini

Monday, February 3, 2014

"No matter how much you polish a terd... It's still a terd!" -Elder Anderson

Ready for my week? Leggo!

Monday was a crazy Pday for us. We emailed for an hour and then ran off to lunch with Dean and Pat C**** and they showed us this super sweet diner that we both love now! They are really a neat couple. We ran back to the library to finish emailing and after I got done emailing, I taught a lesson to these teenage kids in the library that the Foothill Sister's were teaching so that was pretty cool! We than ran home to work out and chill until it was dinner time. We had KFC with the P**** family and had a FHE lesson with them over justice and mercy. The kids were asking about it and so we had a lesson over it. I honestly didn't understand it for the longest time until my mission. I love that those kids were asking those questions! Before we left their house, we contacted their neighbor that was getting home and he actually accepted a blessing from us! More details to come about William and family :). We then got our OYMs on the way home and while we were at the mailroom, I contacted this lesbian couple that were walking by and we had a nice conversation that turned into a brief lesson with them. Teach when you find, find when you teach works! We didn't get a return appointment but we did have a positive impact on them so that was good!

On Tuesday, we finished some weekly planning from the previous week and then we went out to work. We saw Tom for a brief, daily contact lesson and then we ran off to dinner with the J**** family. That was super good! Anyway, we went to go teach Cale but then we got there and Sister Cl*** said that they were at the 12 step addiction recovery program thingy that the Church puts on so that was awesome to hear! We taught Sister C**** at the door and then taught Jimmy and Kyle when they got home. We then booked it to go see William again and left a really good blessing. We tried to invite him to baptism but we kept talking about history and his past and stuff. He even talked about taking a dead body over the border of Mexico and how it was legal to do so. Kinda creepy but he is a good man. He has two daughters, 10 and 7 so that will be good for them! William is from Guatemala and he talked about an oral tradition that his people saw a white man descend out of heaven and talk with them, ascend back up and that now they are waiting for Him to come back. BAM! The Book of Mormon is SO TRUE! It was a great segway into introducing the BoM. It was super cool way to finish our night :) Two new investigators!

Wednesday was when I started to get sick again... I woke up and worked out but then I started to tank. We still taught four lessons but I was not feeling good. We went by and saw Paul R*** to talk with him. He owns his own company reloading ammunition so that was pretty cool to see that process. He can ship ammo now so when I get some of my own firearms I am going buy from him! Before dinner, we went by to see Nick and Allison. We taught them about the pre-earth life and how we can overcome tribulations. We gain patience through going through tribulations! We then had dinner with the Cl**** again and we taught Cale there too. Elder Anderson taught a lady on the street named Tracy and got a return appointment for today that we are hopefully gonna see today so that was good! But my health was not good that day but I just kept truckin' away.

Oh man, Thursday was not good. We weekly planned and then we went out to go see Tom again and when we got back to the house, I took four Benadryl thinking that it would help with my sinus and flu symptoms even though its mainly for allergy. Yes, I know it makes you drowsy but I thought I could fight it. Yup, I was wrong. After dinner with Brother H*** at Amy's Diner, I crashed HARD. I fell asleep at around 6:30pm and I didn't get up until 6:30am the next day. Yup, I was pretty sick and I knocked out. I still don't feel the best but I am working through it. So needless to say, we got behind in our lessons and we had to play catch-up for the rest of the week.

Friday was zone meeting and that went well besides the fact I was still feeling crappy and I got the biggest migraine on the planet. Plus we had a huge scare on the way home. Since we still don't have our phone, the office was trying to get a hold of us because the management at our apartment called and said our apartment was leaking and that we had to get all of our possessions out ASAP. Well, that was the message that got relayed to us by another missionary. We booked it home right as maintenance was walking out of our apartment and the Cle** walked up too. There was a leak in the guest bathroom upstairs that had leaked slowly into the downstairs apartment. It was nothing big, just had to fix the tub real quick and then dry out the bottom apartment. We did have a good talk with the Cle***, which I guess Mom knows because they knew me when they saw me. So that was cool and then Marco, one of the maintenance guys that came to fix the leak, talked to us about the church and we taught him about the Book of Mormon and gave him our info so we can stay in touch. Pretty funny how the Lord works sometimes haha. After that settled down, I have to take care of my migraine so I showered and slept again. We missed dinner but they dropped off money but missed a dessert appointment. However, we did see Allison and Nick to see if we were good for Saturday but Nick has to work... We then ran off to P**** to see him and his family. We taught the kids about Lehi's dream because that's the missionary slang for sleeping during studies haha. I thought it was funny and the kids learned a lot! Even though it was kinda a batched day, we made the best outta it.

Saturday morning, we visited with Sister Sanchez at her salon to see how she is doing. Since we don't have our phone, it's been hard to see her husband because he doesn't like drop by's but we're gonna start doing them anyways. Anyways, we went and saw Ivan again even though we dropped him and invited to come to church. Did he come? No, but we still tried. We were on our way up to Jean's house when Elder Anderson contacted this lady on a bike and we ended up having a lesson with her and bearing testimony of our purpose. We had her in tears, the Spirit was so strong. Even on the street, we can still bring the Spirit! She is up to meet with us again so that will be super cool! Jean wasn't there but we didn't go there to see her, it was for Jody. The cool thing is that I prayed for a miracle to happen because things aren't going how I want them to in the area and now we found her. It was a pretty small but really powerful miracle experience! We went to go see Cale but he was wrapped up in taking care of a sick baby so we taught Jimmy instead. He's wanting to come back to church and I love that about him! Even if I don't baptize Cale, at least I could re-activate a family for life. We then ran back to the apartment to grab my Nerf fun that I promised Allison's son, Ryker, if he was good this week. We had a brief Sabbath Day lesson with Nick and then we had an all out Nerf war with the kids. Yup, I'm still a big kid at heart haha. I modified my gun that I gave Ryker and I forgot how hard it shot until he shot me! Ryker hit his sister from across the room underneath the table through chairs which was a pretty dope shot! Poor girl haha she's only two but she is fearless. Yup, a super fun way to end the night.

Sunday at Church was good, we had Cale come but that's it... We had ward council in the morning and then made church visits until sacrament meeting started. I was actually a good testimony meeting! That was my last testimony meeting as a missionary... Oh man! Crazy! I got up with Noah Tanileu who is fixin' to turn eight on Saturday and be baptized. He was scared to go up and so I told him I would go up there with him and so we did it! He got up to the pulpit and said "brothers and sisters... TALOFA!" and the whole congregation said it back! It was awesome! It was just like being back in Moreno Valley :). I bore my testimony on being missionaries and the Savior. Brother H*** got up and spoke about his missionary experiences and told the whole ward how great of a time it was having us in his home to teach John. It was awesome! That was a basic theme in the whole testimony meeting, it was so sick! Then the fireworks happened... Cale dragged us into a discussion about marijuana and the church's stance on it. Now mind you, Elder Anderson wants to be a narcotics cop and get drugs off the streets and so he has done his research on everything. He told Cale what was up and then he even dragged Dale P*** and David Pu*** into the discussion after gospel principles. Needless to say, Cale is justifying smoking pot even though he has a medicinal card for it. So we gotta help him overcome that. We finished church and then went over to the Cl**** for dinner to break our fast. They had the Super Bowl on and so we watched it with them while we ate. We taught Cale about the Word of Wisdom and the promise of "running and not be weary and walk and not faint". They wanted us to stay but we told them we had to go out and make some more visits. We went to see Rodney but we only taught him briefly. I want him baptized so much! I am make it happen before I leave. Before that though, we got into a bash with their neighbor downstairs about the Book of Mormon but the lady wouldn't listen to us so it was pointless. Plus I didn't want to leave a bad impression by telling her she was wrong so we just left it at that. After that, we rode to Gawry's to see what was up with Melissa. I guess she has gotten kinda scared when we invited her to baptism and when she was feeling that it was true so she kinda back off... That sucks but we won't give up. However, Dalian got into the marshmallows are we starting trying to throw it into each other's mouths which turned into Dalian throwing them everywhere haha. I threw one into Anastasia's mouth on the second throw! Yeah buddy haha. We already got our OYMs and so we rode home for the night. I made calls to the district and zone leaders and we called it a night.

So these last few weeks have really interesting for me. I am frustrated with the area because it always seems to not go our way when we are working has hard as we can... Of course we are working on being obedient, repenting daily and trying to make things work but I keep getting frustrated because I haven't seen it yet... But I am gonna be that closer that comes in the ninth inning with the bases loaded, up by a run to save the game. I think about Lights Out Lidge when he played for the Astro's and how he was clutch all the time. I gotta be clutch now and finish it off. I am trying to keep that mentality as I keep working these next few weeks. Keep me in your prayers and always know that I love the Savior and that He is MY Personal Savior. I love y'all and we will talk soon!

- Elder Tonini

Fwd: Airline Baggage Info

Yup, its official...

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: <PRS@ldschurch.org>
Date: Wed, Jan 29, 2014 at 9:07 AM
Subject: Airline Baggage Info
To: Andrew Tonini

As you pack your luggage in preparation for your flight, consider the following tips to avoid problems with your carry-on and paying extra baggage fees:

  • All liquids, gels and aerosols must be in three-ounce or smaller containers. Larger containers that are half-full or toothpaste tubes rolled up are not allowed. Each container must be three ounces or smaller. 
  • All containers must be placed in a single, quart-size, sip-top, clear plastic bag. Gallon size bags or bags that are not zip-top such as fold-over sandwich bags are not allowed. Each traveler can use only one, quart-size, sip-top, clear plastic bag. 
  • Place bag in a bin or on the conveyor belt for X-ray screening, X-raying separately will allow TSA security officers to more easily examine the declared items. 
  • Pack all your coats and jackets in your checked baggage when possible. All coats and jackets must go through the X-ray machine for inspection. 
  • When in doubt, leave it out. If you're not sure about whether you can bring an item through the checkpoint, but it in your checked bag. 
  • Weigh your luggage BEFORE you get to the airport. Domestic flights allows 2 checked bags at 62 linear inches (158cm) / 50 lbs each and 1 carry on 45 linear inches (115cm). Internation flights may be different you should check with Sister Pierce for luggage allowances. 
  • If your checked luggage weighs ANY AMOUNT over the airline's allowance or is larger than the dimensions permitted by the airline you will be charged. 
  • You may want to send some of your things home before you leave, or decide whether some things are even worth the extra cost to take with you. 
 In order to board any flight, you must have at least one valid (not expired) form of government issued photo identification. This could be a driver's license or passport. POSSESSION OF CURRENT PHOTO IDENTIFICATION IS CRITICAL!!!! CHECK YOURS NOW.

--Elder Tonini