Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas in Starke

December 30, 2014

This week has been pretty crazy to say the least! I'm super glad I was at least able to talk to y'all on Christmas day(even if I didn't see your faces)! So y'all already know how half my week has gone but just in case you forgot, I'll give you a recap. Monday night we visited Brother Chism and he gave me some sweet looking antique ties! I'm wearing one as I write this. We went to the church to Facebook, but found Brother Beckham(from the ward) there and he took us out to Taco Bell! It was awesome. Tuesday I went to Lake Butler on a trade off with Elder Stoker and that was a crazy day. We tracted for like 5 hours in these backwoods trailer parks. For dinner we went over to the Bishops and had some super good Boston Butt. I totally need to make some for y'all when I get back. We played games with them and watched Joy to World. Bishop Waters even gave me some of his homemade jerky, because I love it so much! That thing was gone in less than a day. We got up the next morning at like 4:30 am and went back over to his house to season some chickens and throw them in the oven, to deliver to the widows in the ward. Elder Warren and Andersen came and picked us up for District Meeting. I had to do a training and got through it without embarrassing myself so that was pretty good. We all had root beer floats and cookies after. It was sweet. Not a whole lot went on misisonary work wise on Christmas Eve and Christmas because basically everyone hates you, because they are with their family and stuff. We went over to the Beckhams in Keystone Heights for dinner Christmas Eve and that was pretty great. We watched Ephraims Rescue and Bro Beckham played his organ for us (he's SUPER good). Christmas day was super busy! We woke up and opened all our presents, which basically consisted of three things for me. Fruit (oranges and apples), gift cards, and letters. It was awesome. The Barbers called us up and invited over for lunch around one. So we went went over to the party barn and ate food and talked with them for a couple hours. We had to leave around 3:20 to go to the Townsend's for Dinner, but we followed Elder Warren's mega outdated GPS and ended up on some sketchy back roads. I'm sure y'all remember but we totally got stuck. We tried and tried to get out any way we could for like 30 mins but we finally just gave up. Rather than go through the embarrassing process of calling someone from the ward to come get us, we jogged about 1/4 mile down the road and made a new friend. So this guy Patrick was there and was willing to help us out. He was super nice and awesome and got us out! Thank goodness. So we finally made it the Townsends, about 45 mins. late, and then I called y'all. That's why I was a little late calling.... After I wrapped up the call, we went inside and had some good dinner and sat out by the campfire for a while. Around 6:30 we had to leave once again and go to the Beckhams again for Christmas dinner. We got there and chatted with everyone and ate food. It was great. We watched the nativity video too. Friday, we were back to missionary work and visited Brother Cotton, in the ward and talked to him for awhile. Saturday, we cleaned the church around 9 and had a mini-correlation with the sisters because they leave today, so it's just us covering the area now. We have been walking and biking for days, since we have run out of miles on the car so my legs are roasted. We visited a couple of people in Whispering Oaks Apartments, and went to go see Larry. We always have a good chat with him. He played his guitar and sang for us, it was awesome. We were walking home after that and a ton of black kids on the side of the street started trying to mess with us so we got our bikes and Elder Warren's just like "alright, I challenge y'all to a dance off" so they break danced and then to my surprise he did! which is crazy because he's like the whitest kid I know. It was hilarious! All the black kids were laughing as we left saying "you'll have to come back and teach us those moves sometime!" pretty great. Yesterday pretty much nothing happened. Both me and Elder Warren were sick yesterday, so not a ton got done. But we're feeling better today! Hope y'all had an awesome Christmas! Can't wait to talk to you again.

Elder Toolson

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Parties and Knocking Doors

December 23, 2014

Hey Y'all!
     It's been another great week here in Florida preaching the gospel. On Tuesday we pretty much did regular missionary work, a little bit of finding and met with Jerry.  Tuesday nights are always a blast because it's basketball night. Have I ever told y'all about Starke ball before? It's insane. A ton of black dudes show up and man, they know how to play. It's crazy stuff. This past Wednesday we had District Meeting here in Starke and that went pretty well. Afterwards I got to go on a trade off with Elder Andersen! Me and him are pretty tight. I went to Lake Butler with him and we did service for this older lady,Gale. Man, there was some work to be done on that yard! We worked for maybe two and a half hours and got like a 1/4 of the yard picked up. We had to find ways to keep ourselves entertained (giving each other rides in the wheelbarrow, pine cone basketball, etc.) Anyways after that we had to rush off to the youth activity which was one of those things where you eat dinner at someone's house and then go to another house and have dessert. It was pretty fun! The ward pretty much knows me in Lake Butler because I always go there on trade offs. It was funny because it's still pretty recent after transfers and they thought I was the new missionary so they asked me to bear my testimony and us and the sisters had to sing for the youth. It's always a blast in Lake Butler. Thursday we headed out to Orange Park for the Mission wide Christmas Party which was AWESOME. I got to see my old buddies Elder Lane and Elder Greenlaw and Elder Averett. Man our district sure has changed. All the zones performed skits and some of them were super good! Our zone acted out The Hope of God's Light Mormon Message. We ate some super good food, and had a great Christmas program in the chapel afterwards.  On Friday we basically did finding for most of the day but my favorite part was when we bumped into this guy, Gonzalez. He's super Old and a Roman Catholic. The first thing he said was, "If your selling religion, I ain't buying it." But somehow we got him to soften up and he took us around the side of his house and showed us his koi pond. He talked in between for like half an hour about how awesome his koi pond is and how he's prepared to shoot anyone that comes to his house when the end of the world comes. "Keep watching" he says. People like him keep door knocking interesting. Saturday we had our Ward Christmas Party that night and that was amazing! A ton of investigators and less-actives showed up. We ate some great food (pretty much always the case in the south) talked with everyone and then all the kids (and missionaries) got to see Santa Claus. I have an awesome picture, I'll have to attach it. Yesterday was a pretty uneventful day of finding. We tried a ton of potentials, less actives, and knocked doors, but pretty much everyone was gone, busy, or not interested. We had dinner at the bishops that night. and they all sat around the table and I sat next to their seven year old son, Maverick. Me and him are tight. He told me a ton of knock knock jokes that made like no sense and did the craziest stuff haha! We shared a little message with them and headed across town to the Barber's birthday party and talked to them for a little bit and watched Reese (about 10) down some drops of hot sauce and tabasco. It's been a pretty crazy week but things are slowing down in the misisonary work department, they usually do around holidays... but we'll keep working! I got everyone's Christmas letters and packages so thank you to all who sent me something!!! I love it. Can't wait to open them. Have a great Christmas week y'all!

Elder Toolson

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Food Storage and Festivities

December 16, 2014

Hey Y'all!
     Another week has gone by in Starke and it's been crazy! Wednesday as ya'll know was transfers and I said goodbye to Elder Lane, who's in Orange Park now. Super sad. I met my new companion Elder Warren who came from White House. He's from Cedar City, Utah and has been out for 6 months. He's pretty cool but way different from Elder Lane. Elder Lane only has three weeks left on his mission and was a lot more relaxed and a tad bit trunky, but Elder Warren is still pretty new in the mission and is very gung-ho about the work. He's our new district leader (his first leadership position and that seems to be going well). Things are certainly different this transfer. Anyways, We got back Wednesday and had dinner with the Watsons (a very old couple in our ward) and had a good time over there. After dinner Bro. Watson looks at us and says, " Do you guys need to go shopping?" and we said, "yeah." Elder Warren did because he's new. And he's just like "Well, follow me!" So he took us through the door into his 2-car garage which is absolutely jam packed full of food storage. They have a garden and have canned green beans, sweet peas, made jelly, and have basically everything you could ever think of. But then he just walks right on by that and leads us into this 2,400 square foot (I think) huge side building dedicated entirely to food storage. He probably had several thousand pounds of grain and flour and stuff and had a ton of cereal, first aid, cans of literally everything, it was crazy. So he gives us two grocery bags and says pick out whatever you want, so I got like 2 things and Elder Warren and I didn't even have to make a trip to Walmart to get him food haha. Our teaching pool has been getting very thin, so we've been knocking a ton of doors all week. We knocked the projects (this mega ghetto neighborhood) and this little black girl, about 6 followed us around the whole time haha. Super funny. We've been knocking a ton of random streets around Starke as well. Finding is becoming very hard. We've run into a ton of people who just told us to come back after Christmas, like 3 weeks away. So yeah we've pretty much been finding all week. Friday and Saturday we spent most of the night working on our float for the Starke Christmas Parade. It turned out super good! I'll have to try and attach a picture or too. The theme was Candyland, but everyone in town mixed a little bit of Jesus into it. the actual parade was at 6:00 on Saturday and our float won 1st place in the youth division! 2nd year in a row! It was tons of fun. Me and Elder Warren walked alongside the float and handed out candy to all the people on the sidewalk. All the youth on the float were yelling and screaming and we gave them candy to throw out. Terrible idea haha. Pretty sure they nailed a couple people in the side of the head... That Parade was super cool, wish y'all could have seen it! Yesterday was a typical Sunday. We teach gospel principles (I forget if I told y'all) and Jerry (our investigator) and Bro Cotton ( a Less Active) both showed up to church so that was pretty great. We spent the afternoon knocking and the night having scripture study at the Barbers which is always a hoot. We all swapped stories about Fast and Testimony meetings gone wrong. I told them about that one time that lady got up back in AZ and was like screaming in Navajo and like weeping haha. Oh man. Anyways hope y'all have a great week! Merry (almost) Christmas!
Elder Toolson

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A New Companion and a Gator Head

December 9, 2014

Hey Everyone!

This past week has been crazy and very very busy to say the least. Tuesday we drove to Lake City and had interviews with President Craig and that went pretty well. Wednesday we drove to Lake City again for zone meeting and got some training. We practiced our zone skit for the Mission Christmas Party after zone meeting. We're acting out the hope of God's light for it. It's actually not terrible! After zone meeting we ate at Chick-fil-a in Lake City and bought a gator head at a gas station so that was pretty sweet. Friday one of Elder Lane's old buddies from Fleming Island drove down to Starke and worked with us for the night. It was a blast. We saw Japan that night too and had a super good lesson with them. Yesterday was transfer call (why I'm a day late) and I found out that Elder Lane is getting transferred so I'll meet my new companion Elder Warren tomorrow so I'll let y'all know how that goes... We also said goodbye to Tamra and Katie last night since Elder Lane's leaving and got some pictures with them. That's about it for this week! I got a ton of good pictures this week I'll send them in a separate e-mail!

Elder Toolson

Elder Toolson, Tamra, Elder Lane
Elder Toolson, and Elder Lane
Back Row: Elder Greenlaw, Elder Andersen, Elder Sharp, Elder Walgamott, Elder Lane, Elder Toolson
Front Row: Sister Williams, Sister Whetstone, Sister Atkinson, Sister Hart


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Thanksgiving and Trade-offs

 December 3, 2014

If I had to pick a theme for this week it'd be trade-offs. I went on four this week! Tuesday I stayed in Starke with Elder Sharp. We taught one our new 'gators, Morgan, who seems decently interested.  We'll have to go back Wednesday.  I went to Lake Butler with Elder Andersen. Thursday was Thanksgiving and one of the few days we weren't on a trade-off. We played turkey bowl over in Lake Butler with their ward in the morning and that was super fun! We traveled back to Starke and went to the Townsends around 5:00 for Thanksgiving. We decided to keep it simple instead of going to like 4 meals and hating life. It was great. The Townsends are hilarious and the food was amazing. They had turkey, ham, some super good stuffing, some green bean casserole, and some butternut squash. So good. Friday I was here in Starke with Elder Crawford (even newer than me in the mission!) while Elder Lane went to the temple down in Orlando. That night, about half an hour after Elder Lane got back we traded again. with the zone leaders for another tradeoff. I was in Starke with Elder Collett. So yeah, tons upon tons of tradeoffs this week. My favorite thing that happened this week was probably Wednesday, on my trade-off in Lake Butler. We went over to the Bishop's house for dinner over there and had some super good enchiladas. Anyway, we got on the topic of spicy foods and Bishop Waters brings up this hot sauce he has that is insanely hot. His wife was super against him getting it out and told us several times that we do not want to try this hot sauce. But he brought it out anyway and of course I'm not going to chicken out. So I put the most ridiculously small drop of hot sauce on there ( I dipped it in the cap) and they were not kidding! My mouth was on fire, for 15 minutes, not even exaggerating. Basically ruined my enchilada, everything tasted like rubber after that. Definetly the hottest thing I've ever had in my life. As far as investigators go right now, Kim moved to Gainesville, so Jerry can start his 4 months of living the gospel! He has an interview on Tuesday which is super exciting. Japan and his wife, Zara seem really interested, we just need to get some lessons going with them and Morgan seems pretty interested too. Things are going pretty good here! Hope y'all had a fantastic Thanksgiving!

Elder Toolson

Sunday, November 30, 2014

New Investigators

November 24, 2014

This week was pretty great! I had trade offs Wednesday with Elder Walgamott (everyone calls him Walgee) and he came here to good old Starke. Thursday we traded back and Elder Lane broke his tooth so we had to take a trip to Jacksonville to get it fixed. Saturday we picked up two new investigators, Japan, and Morgan and have plans to meet with them later on this week! A member from the ward, Sister Beckham called us and her mom fell and broke her hip and was in the hospital so me and Elder Lane went to go give her a blessing. We also saw a less active Brother Chism and he gave me this leather trench coat that makes me look like I'm an 80's detective or something. Pretty dang sweet. Yesterday we saw Kevin again and talked about the nature of the Godhead with him. As far as investigators go, Kim and Jerry are still up in the air so hopefully something happens with them. We haven't seen Katie for about a week now, she's been doing this Mary Kay business which is eating up all of her time. So we've been trying to pick up some new investigators, so hopefully the two we just picked up will be solid! Sorry if this is kinda lame but I haven't written in my journal all week so this like all off of memory... Anyway hope y'all are having an awesome week! Have a good Thanksgiving! 

Elder Toolson

Monday, November 17, 2014

Elder Punker gets his Eyebrows Tweezed.

November 17, 2014

Hey y'all,
     I've had a pretty awesome week this week! Things are going sweet! On P-day we went over to Katie's because Elder Lane had to do some school stuff. Katie's been selling Mary Kay lately and somehow she talked us into letting her pluck our eyebrows. Probably the worst decision of my life. Its looks good, but man it did not feel good. We had our weekly Monday lesson with this guy Kevin who is very very intelligent. I like having discussions with people who actually respond and ask questions. We did some service for the Hirschs Tuesday (trimming, raking and other stuff). We saw this guy Jessie too. Totally drunk at like 2:30 in the afternoon and not friendly haha. I went on a trade off with Elder Greenlaw in Lake Butler this week. We did so much dang service. We weeded, and mulched, and cleared out a garden for this lady Marla, and later that night helped Sister Janine paint for a couple hours. In between we visited some guy in a trailer in the backwoods. He took us on a little walk to this stream and showed us around his property and stuff while we talked. We had our usual service at the Bradford food pantry but it was mega busy because Thanksgiving's coming up. I was bag boy for about 3 hours and helped everyone carry their bags to their car.  We had dinner with Bro Ray and visited Brother Chism. Elder Lane specifically told me to knock quietly because he might be asleep and then he totally let the screen door go and it slammed loud enough to wake up the neighbors and it woke Brother Chism up. I was totally busting up. Friday we went over to the Barbers in the morning because Elder Lane had to register for school and needed a computer. So while we did that I studied a little bit, and played with the kids. Their littlest one, about Brooklyn's age ,always calls me Elder Punker. Yesterday was the Primary Program and those are always a blast haha. What the Primary in this ward lacks in numbers they more than make up for in enthusiasm. One of the kids up there looked mega drunk and kept bumping into Nick(who we visit) and he kept throwing me these "help me" looks haha. We visited Jan, an investigator who goes to Madison Street Baptist(our main competitor in the area) and swapped beliefs for a while. She wants us to come back and discuss heaven and hell more in depth with her but I don't know if she'll listen. She might just want to bash. Who knows. We visited Tamra too and me and Elder Lane were dying laughing because Tamra kept forgetting what she was talking about.  We visited Larry too and talked with him about prayer. We skipped the Barbers last night and saw Katie instead. We asked her at the end to think about the question "I have a testimony that the Book of Mormon is true.  What am I going to do about it?" 
Pretty much my week in a nutshell! If I left out anything you want to know ask away!

Elder Toolson

Monday, November 10, 2014

Baptisms, Blow Guns, and Squirrels

November 10, 2014

Hello Y'all,

Another week has flown by here in Starke! For Dad and I guess all y'all our daily schedule is usually, wake up at 6:30, exercise, shower, eat breakfast and all that good stuff until personal study from 8-9.  Since I'm still in training, companionship study is 2 hours so that's from 9-11 usually. We usually visit people from 11-12 and eat lunch from 12-1. The rest of the day is usually up in the air.  We never eat dinner or do anything at a consistent time after that sooo yeah. Last P-day we saw like everyone at Wal-mart! We saw the sister missionaries, and Jennifer and Grace from the ward there. I bought a blow gun (don't even ask why) and it was probably the best decision I've ever made. During lunch and sometimes dinner we slather some peanut butter on the tree and try and hunt squirrels.  Relax though I haven't killed any. Ummm we went to the food pantry Wednesday instead of Thursday to help them unload some huge shipments they got for the Thanksgiving season. We met a super nice lady there, Brenda, I think.  And at one point she just yelled, "That cinnamon bread is off the chain!" Super funny because she's in like her 70's. Cracked me up! Ohhhhh! We had zone conference in Gainesville and that ate up most of the day from like 8-5. I got to see all the new missionaries that just came in there. It's sweet not being the youngest in the misison anymore. Yesterday was pretty busy. After church Sister Thompson in the ward, had a flat tire out in the parking lot so we fixed that for her. We went over to Katie's for a couple minutes afterward and chatted with her. We visited Brother Cotton that night, a less active in the ward, and told him to make the temple a priority in his life and start coming to church so hopefully he does. We went over to the Barber's for scripture study last night and that's always mega fun! That's pretty much my week in a nutshell. We started teaching this lady Cassandra out in Lawtey but haven't got to sit down with her again since we taught the restoration so hopefully we can do that. Oh! Last night it was super funny because we saw one of our investigators and his girlfriend called us over and he tried running because he was smoking and Elder Lane just yells out, "We caught you in the act!" Cracked me up haha. Kim, a lady we teach is getting baptized on the 21st, so hopefully that'll happen! She seems super solid and loves church! We kind of tag team her and Jerry,who she lives with, with the sisters.We still meet with Katie regularly and talk with her.Those are our big investigators right now. I cant really think of anything else that happened this week so if you got questions about what happened, ask away! 

Elder Toolson

Monday, November 3, 2014

Another Week in Starke

November 3, 2014

Whaddup y'all

    This week was pretty fun with all the Halloween stuff going on! We did service for Brother Beckham out in Keystone Heights and helped him rip some stumps out of the ground for like 3 hours. Me and Elder Lane were covered in charcoal because he tried to burn it previously. That's some dang dirty work! But as reward, he fed us his biscuits N gravy which is like famous around the ward, and for good reason. Soooo good I almost died. Oh and he also showed us his organ that he has and played us a bunch of songs. He's a funny dude. Friday for Halloween we were supposed to be in a member or investigator's house at 6:00 and the Barbers invited us over. We had a little Halloween party at the party barn and went on this hay ride with them. Me and Elder Lane thought it'd be like 10-15 mins. Nope. 3 hours of bone-chilling cold with the wind blowing super bad. It was definitely an awesome experience haha. It was super fun. The way they do trick or treating here is via hay rides.( because it's so country) so we rode around in the back of a truck with everyone shooting silly string and hollering and such. Freaking awesome Halloween. Anyways the day after we had another shindig at the party barn. We had some delicious Boston Butt and left to go do some missionary work. We finally reconnected with Tamra (haven't seen her in 2 weeks and she was supposed to get baptized) and she says she still wants to but wants to make sure she'll come after she gets baptized. Other than that just the same old missionary thing going on!

Love and miss y'all! 

Elder Toolson 

(I asked him what Boston Butt was and he said it was Pork that they smoke overnight.) (And I don't know what the Party Barn is other than a Barn they Party in...)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Planting Both Feet in My Mission

October 28, 2014

Hey Y'all,
     I forgot to tell you we had transfers this week so P-day is on Tuesday instead of Monday, whoops. I've decided to try and make my letters a little bit shorter from now on for 2 reasons. 1. I'm trying to plant both feet in this mission and writing those super long letters is kind of distracting. And 2. It gets very monotonous. We teach and preach the gospel everyday, just to different people, and most of the time it's perfectly average. So anyways I'll hit you up with the out of the ordinary stuff we do from now on. We ended up teaching seminary Tuesday morning and ended up preparing the totally wrong lesson for it, soooo we threw everything out the window introduced them to Johnny Lingo (they'd never heard of it!) while we read the lesson plan.We had our last district meeting as a district Wednesday. Super sad. I love our district! So we took a district pic and separated back. We had the trunk or treat on Friday and that was super fun. Us and the sisters got to judge the chili, desert, and trunks to see whose was best. I was so dang full. People down here know how to do chili right! I had my first fo' real bible bash on Sunday and it was freaking awesome. Oh! I almost forgot! I blessed my first house! It was so freaking weird kneeling down and blessing an inanimate object, but sweet at the same time. I felt like I should be yelling, casting out the devil and such but I decided against it. A miracle this week, we were going to find a media referral that we have been meaning to contact and went to the right address but he didn't live there. But we met who was there, a sweet old lady named Sue, who we taught the restoration too and she seemed decently interested! We still need to check back with her but it was pretty cool finding someone you didn't expect too! And yesterday we randomly went to a Wendy's in Waldo and this guy Andre who took our order, started asking us what church we go to and he said he was interested so we gave him a restoration pamphlet with our number on the back! It was sweet. Oh and we survived transfers! Below is probably in my top 3 favorite conference talk from the most recent session. By D. Todd christofferson. 

Christ died not to save indiscriminately but to offer repentance. We rely “wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save” in the process of repentance, but acting to repent is a self-willed change. So by making repentance a condition for receiving the gift of grace, God enables us to retain responsibility for ourselves. Repentance respects and sustains our moral agency: “And thus mercy can satisfy the demands of justice, and encircles them in the arms of safety, while he that exercises no faith unto repentance is exposed to the whole law of the demands of justice; therefore only unto him that has faith unto repentance is brought about the great and eternal plan of redemption.”

Misunderstanding God’s justice and mercy is one thing; denying God’s existence or supremacy is another, but either will result in our achieving less--sometimes far less--than our full, divine potential. A God who makes no demands is the functional equivalent of a God who does not exist. A world without God, the living God who establishes moral laws to govern and perfect His children, is also a world without ultimate truth or justice. It is a world where moral relativism reigns supreme.
Free Forever, to Act for Themselves

The church is true y'all! Have a great week!
Elder Toolson

Back Row: Elder Dean, Elder Greenlaw, Elder Francom, Elder Collett, Elder Sharp, Elder Green, Elder Toolson, Elder Lane
Front Row: Sister Perkes, Sister Snelgrove, Sister Donahue, Sister Koenig, Sister, Hart, Sister Atkinson, Sister Williams, Sister Davidson

Monday, October 20, 2014

Helium, Snickerdoodles, and Missionary Work

October 20, 2014

Just a normal P-day for the most part. We got some slick new haircuts and saw Brother Barber at the Wal-mart. We gave Sister Hart a blessing (she's been sick) and we also saw Katie that night. Haha mom she told me you commented on her Facebook page! Oh my gosh... 

We went out to McDonald's for lunch with Katie, and went over to Brother Burkett's house to help him cover his greenhouse for the winter. We started for maybe ten minutes and it starts down pouring, so we go inside and we're just like, it's Florida, it'll pass in like 15 minutes. So almost 2 hours later were still talking to Brother Burkett and we're finally like screw it we'll do it another day. So we left and tried to visit a few other people but no luck. There's always basketball on Tuesday so we went to that and called it for the day.

I went on a trade off with the zone leaders in Lake City today, me and Elder Francom. We traded right after district meeting that morning. We dropped off his bike to get a tune-up and grabbed some Wendy's and headed to some member's home, the Strattons, to Facebook. We went out knocking some doors and of course more people will turn you down then accept you but we managed to find a lady who seemed interested and then another family of five! We did that until dinner time and went back to the Strattons for dinner and brought one of their investigators, Sandy. Probably the coolest person ever. All the missionaries in Lake City are homies with him and he lives right underneath the apartment. So we had dinner and watched a couple of Mormon Messages with them. We went to visit another investigator, Desiree and taught her tithing. And by then it was 9 so we headed back.

Well I got back from my trade-off in Lake City around 10 in the morning and found out that trade-off reports are due this Saturday not the next like we thought, so we called MacClenny and asked if they could do a late trade-off at like 4:00 that afternoon and thank goodness they could.  So me and Elder Lane did our weekly service at the food pantry and traded up but this time I was taking the lead in Starke with Elder Sharp. So we traded and I drove us back to Starke. We tried visiting a ton of different people. Tamra is apparently out of town.  We stopped in on the Smiths and talked to their daughter for maybe 5 minutes who said both her parents were super sick in bed.  We dropped in on Kim and Jerry who were on their way out to some local thing going so we talked to them for like 2 minutes too. So we tried visiting some potential's. We finally ended up finding this lady Cheri who was super nice and gave us a drink of water and some fruit! We'll try and go back soon and try and teach the restoration to them. We had a super good dinner at the Chisms (ham and okra). Well, the ham was good. I found out that I did not like okra, like at all. But yeah the Chisms are sweet and Brother Chism says he needs us to come bless his house because some strange crap has been going on so,that'll be interesting...

We met up at a random gas station this morning and traded back and headed straight to this trainer/trainee meeting in Mandarin (suburb in JAX) which lasted until about 2:00. It was super sweet seeing all of my "old" buddies from the MTC even though that was only like a month ago and I knew them for 2 weeks haha. My companion from the MTC, Elder Hadfield went home so that kind of stinks but it was nice seeing everyone else. We stopped in Fleming Island on the way home to visit a recent convert that Elder Lane wanted to check up on (he served there). So after that we headed back to Starke and got back around 4:00.  We Facebooked, had dinner, and visited Katie and played with her kids at the park.

We had a baptismal interview today with Avani who the sisters have been teaching and that went super good, so from there we went to the church and Facebooked and filled up the baptismal font. We didn't attend her baptism at 3:00 because we already made plans to go to Katie's kids birthday party which was awesome! We sucked helium and had cake and all that other good stuff that goes with birthday parties. We headed back to the baptism just in time for refreshments. Timed it perfect. Sister Underhill made some choice empanadas so we ate those while we cleaned up. We also stopped in on the Barbers, who were also having a birthday party that day. We wrapped up the night visiting Larry that night and he's doing great! We talked a ton about what he's been reading in the Book of Mormon and of course football because the Gators were playing that night.

We got up and had Ward Council super early at 7:30 and I was like half asleep. Near the end we had to leave early to pick up Kim and Jerry for church. Church was pretty much normal, Matt taught a super good lesson in priesthood about how if we stop doing the small things and let one brick house off of our house, it is so much easier to knock out the other bricks until they are all tumbling down the hill and you wonder how you got there. We came back and had some spaghetti that we picked up at church for lunch. We did studies and left to go visit Nick, who's an 8 year old kid that lives with his g-parents who aren't members. So we talked to Nick for a little bit and went to go see the Hinsons over in Lawtey, which is a decent 20 mins from Starke. So we visited them and they said they were having kind of a crazy night but that we could come back later. So we headed back to Starke and tried to visit Sister Busterna but she wasn't home. We went over to the Barbers for weekly scripture study and that's always super fun. They had some snicker doodles that blew my frikin mind.

I guess I should probably put something spiritual in this so, my favorite Mormon Message, I don't know if I told y'all is called The Will of God, based off the talk "As Many as I Love, I Rebuke and Chasten" by D. Todd Christofferson. So good I probably watch it like 3 times a day. I love this part, 
"How could you do this to me, God? I have done everything I could do to measure up. There is nothing that I could have done--that I should have done--that I haven’t done. How could you do this to me?" “And then I heard a voice, and I recognized the tone of this voice. It was my own voice, and the voice said, ‘I am the gardener here. I know what I want you to do.’ The bitterness went out of my soul, and I fell on my knees by the cot to ask forgiveness for my ungratefulness. …

“… And now, almost 50 years later, I look up to [God] and say, ‘Thank you, Mr. Gardener, for cutting me down, for loving me enough to hurt me.’”

“As Many as I Love, I Rebuke and Chasten”

Some parts of that probably don't make sense until you read the talk but yeah. We'll probably share it with Katie sometime.

Hope y'all have a good week!
Elder Toolson

Here's some pictures 

(Lake on the way to Jacksonville for a meeting)

(One of the many swamps we see around here in Starke)

(The sunset in Lawtey visiting the Hinsons)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Lost Ipad

October 14, 2014

I left my Ipad in Lake Butler, so I don't get it back until WednesdayI write down what goes down everyday so I don't forget. So, I'll just hit you up with the highlights of this week. Tuesday we met this lady named Passion, and man were they accurate on that name. WE barely got a word in while she talked to us about her religion. Did y'all know Jesus doesn't have a soul? We are meeting with her again tomorrow and she's gonna show us the book of the lost bible haha. Can't wait. I went on a trade off with Elder Dean in Lake Butler. Lake Butler's freakin' sweet. We did a service project there and met with Sister Jennine(shes super cool)! SO yeah I left the IPad in their car... ummm this thing called bike fest was in town this weekend and we went to check it out with Katie and her kids. Yeah. Not family oriented... it was basically a biker convention. We helped at the food pantry extra long Thursday because LaDon took a trip to Orlando. That's about all I can remember without my trusty IPad. Y'all know how my memory is haha. Have a good week y'all!

Elder Toolson

Monday, October 6, 2014

P-Day is the Greatest Thing On the Face of the Earth.

P-day is the greatest thing on the face of the earth. We did Personal study and went to the library to email. We went shopping at Walmart and came back and put our food away. We cleaned the house cuz it smelt like dirty garbage but now it's smells freaking amazing. Super proud of ourselves. We went to this thrift near the tracks that I've been wanting to check out and I can say without a doubt that is the nastiest store I've set foot in my life. There was hardly any lighting so I'm pretty sure I could've gotten mugged in there and no one would have seen. There was crap EVERYWHERE. I couldn't even get to some stuff because there was stuff on the floor I couldn't get through I wish I had a picture of the inside but I did take one of the outside And all the junk was crazy expensive.those massive round back TVs from like the 90's were like 50 and 100 bucks. Crazy. Anyways we tried another thrift shop but it's closed on Mondays. We went to the church and hung around until elder Dean and Greenlaw came. We made plans before to go to this flea market in Waldo so we grabbed a little lunch at Taco Bell and headed out. The flea market, although empty was open, but no one was there. Probably because it's a Monday and it's down pouring but who knows. We went into this antique shop and looked around forever. They had some freaking cool stuff but all of us were too poor to buy most of it. I did pick up 2 new ties though so that was pretty sweet. I thought about getting y'all souvenirs or something but I have zero idea what to get y'all so if you got any suggestions, lemme know. We headed back to the church and talked for a bit. Me and Elder Lane finally went back to the house around 3 and took short naps.we woke up and went to talk to Katie tonight. We talked about the Book of Mormon and how important it is and chit chatted about other stuff. This town is so small and no one will let us come see them after 8 so we Facebook proselyted and found this cool 2 minute talk by Jeffrey R Holland called "Mission Preparation track 23".

We attempted to visit Kim and Jerry today but they were gone when we tried round 11 and later around 4. So we went to see if Tamra was home and she was so we talked to her about tithing and fast offerings and what they are and she was excited about it. We were going to go to lunch with Katie but her friends car died so we tried to fix it for like an hour but couldn't figure it out so we got Arby's and ate at the park. Her and Elder Lane both call me toolboy now so that's something haha. We facebooked after that and have been trying to find people since one address for a guy didn't exist, we did talk to a guy named Robert for like a second but he had to go. We tried Lashell and a couple other people at weren't home. We stopped and got a drink at the stop and rob ( not really the name but that's what we call it because its super ghetto). We went back to Katies work to try and figure out the car again. Elder Lane said a prayer and figured out that the car needed to be in neutral to start. It was pretty cool and me and Katie were freaked out that the answer came that dang quick. We went to the park and talked to Katie for awhile. We headed to the church and facebooked for a little came home finally ate dinner and wrapped up our day.

We had zone meeting today. We headed up to Lake City and got to watch his new movie called Meet the Mormons. SO GOOD. Go to meetthemormons.com and check it out because it's awesome! After that we had actual zone meeting and received training for a couple hours. We went on trade offs today so I'm with Elder Green for the next day in Maclenny. Me and Elder Green headed to the church there and did a progress record for correlation meeting and ward council and had those meetings. We ate at McDonald's and went to visit some less actives,  the Hartley's. We came back to their apartment which is above a taxidermy shop so that's pretty cool. Elder Green is a huge dork but in the good way. He told me all about his garden at the apartment and showed me his tomatoes, watermelon, like 4 different peppers, carrots and lettuce and kale. We nerded out and talked about different video games and other stuff like that til like 11:30.

It was weird to wake up in Maclenny this morning. We got showered did P study and then like 15 min of comp study and then we went to meet at "the spot" to trade back. Everyone kept just calling it "the spot" and it was super vague and confusing. Turns out "the spot" is a super ghetto looking shack on the city limits of Starke. It also has this tiny little puddle there and there are freaking bubbles coming out of this thing. It's like a freak of nature it's so cool I'll attach the pic. So we traded back and me and Elder Lane headed back to Starke. We goofed around and shot each other with this nerf gun and just did retarded things until we left for the food pantry. We did that until like 2:30 and came back. Elder Lane said he wasn't feeling good so he tanked out and I haven't really done anything besides bum around and try to avoid getting sick myself. I took a 3 hour nap and he took like a five hour one. We ate some pizza they gave us at the food pantry and watched that hour long Joseph Smith movie on the iPad. I read a couple conference talks and turned in early. Having a sick companion when your a missionary actually kind of stinks because there is legit nothing to do besides go out visit people because studying for like 3+ hours gets kind of boring. I'm praying he's better tomorrow so I won't be bored out of my mind.

Well Elder Lane was still sick for most of the day. We're pretty sure at least part of it was the pizza because freaking wrecked havoc on our insides. I cleaned the kitchen and made a little lunch and studied a little. I had to clean out the shower drain so that was super fun. I dry heaved like 5 times it smelled SO bad. I took a little nap and we finally got out of the house around five because he was feeling a little better. We visited Katie for a bit and talked to Larry. Larry apparently has super amazing guitar skills and played us a couple songs. It was sweet. Both of them should be coming to conference tomorrow so that's sweet.

Well it turns out conference is non existent here. We went to the first session at 12 and watched with a grand total of 4 of us, including me and Elder Lane on one of our iPads cuz we couldn't get the projector to work. I really enjoyed D. Todd Christoffersons and Uchtdorfs talks. During intermission we tried to visit Katie, and Tamra but both were out and about so we went home to eat. We went back for conference round two, and this time it was just me and Elder Lane for a while. Katie showed up about 30 minutes in and stayed for about an hour with her kids. It was a sweet session. I loved Elder Holland the best though because he threw down as usual.Me and Elder Lane balled up in the gym for about 45 minutes and then people started showing up because we were all having dinner before priesthood. We had freaking T-bone steaks and sweet potatoes. They know how to do it right. Larry came for the dinner and session. I really enjoyed Elder Cook's and President Uchtdorf's talk. Uchtdorf gave some killer talks today.

We watched conference for most of the day. I thought it would be a good idea to eat that pizza again for lunch. It wasn't.  I was pretty much dying the rest of the day. Anyways we went over to Bishop Carver's for dinner after conference. We had barbecue Sammies and re watched part of Uchtdorf's talk from priesthood with them. It's tradition for all the new missionaries in the ward to get a blessing, so me and Sister Hart both got blessings. We went to visit Katie for the rest of night.

Write y'all next week!
Love and miss Y'all

Elder Toolson

(Outside of ghetto thrift store)

The spots magic puddle

The spots ghetto shack

(Random and super weird photo I was trying out the timer photo thingy) our front yard btw

Super random country road that's black and white for some reason...