Monday, September 29, 2014

I Love This Place

September 30, 2014

P-day!!! Finally. It was sooooo nice to relax for a day. We did all of our public stuff in the morning.  We shopped, hit up the post office, and went to the library to e-mail. We came back and I slipped on my p-day clothes the second I got through that door. I had Mac and cheese for lunch and cleaned the kitchen/did dishes, organized all my crap, started laundry and took an AMAZING nap on my new pillow (I've been sleeping on my blanket)!! We woke up and went to dinner with Bro Ray who is a super smart dude and is super funny. He lives up in White House but still makes the drive to visit us. Elder Lane said he's had dinner with Bro Ray probably 3-4 times in all of his different areas. We had Laredo's Mexican and then an ice cream cone at a place next door. We came back and Katie called us and we talked to her for like an hour. She has sooo many questions about the gospel and it's awesome. She's been reading the BOM, the gospel principles book,, and It's awesome. We Facebooked at the church and called it a day. Things I studied that are super cool: "Be Ye Clean"-Pres. Hinckley April 1996 conference., and Safety For The Soul by Jeffrey R. Holland from Conference 2010 I think.

Today was sooo freaking fun. We went to lunch with Katie at Arby's and brought an sd card to give her so she could download gospel library on her phone. Elder Lane freakin drops the card down the crack of the seat so we're trying to reach it for like 10 minutes and Katie is like almost crying she's laughing so hard. Anyways. We went and Facebooked at the church til 3 and went to go visit Tamra. We taught her the gospel of Jesus Christ. She's seems super excited for her baptism on the 12th! After Tamra we came back ate dinner and we're going to visit Katie but she kept postponing, so Elder Lane's just like, let's get in the car and she'll probably text us. So we drive and drive and she never could make it so we went to our appt. with Larry. He told us that he's been having a rough time lately, and we just talked to him about that for a while, so definitely keeping him in my prayers. We headed back and hit the sack after that

We had lunch with Katie again today. McDonald's this time. She loves the gospel library app, especially the gospel principles book and said she has a ton of questions for us but she left it at a friends house so we chatted and talked about why African Americans couldn't have the priesthood for a while which was cool because Elder Golden actually talked about it during zone conference. We had to leave at 1 to do our weekly service at the food pantry til 3. I helped all the people brings their bags and stuff too their car. Every single car without fail smelled like cigarettes haha. It was pretty funny. 3 things I've learned about Florida so far. 1. Everyone loves Jesus. Half the town is comprised of different churches and the other half is restaurants and things people visit regularly. 2. Pretty much everyone backs the Gators or the Seminoles. A ton of restaurants have things like "Go Gators!" Or "We support the Gators!" And 3. Everyone and I mean everyone drinks sweet tea or smokes cigarettes. I've gotten so used to the smell already it's crazy.  I love this place. Anyways back to what we did. After the food pantry we came back, showered and headed to the church to Facebook. We came back and made hamburger helper and jambalaya for dinner. We were going to visit a bunch of potential converts but we ended up visiting some people from Elder Lane's 1st area Interlachen which shares a border with our area. So we talked to Sister Murray and Brother Travis and caught up with them. And then we headed back. I guess I didn't really elaborate on Elder Lane in my first letter did I? He's awesome. We have the same birthday and are pretty much homies for life after like a week. He's sarcastic and punches me and we joke around a ton. So much fun! I think I'm settling in to missionary work. Oh and he's from Blackfoot, Idaho and he's been out 20 months so I'm most likely his last companion.

We were going to meet with Jerry at 11 this morning but he cancelled so we moved up lunch and did a super long weekly planning session. We went to the church and Facebooked. When I say "we" Facebooked it really means Elder Lane Facebooked. We go to the church for wifi and he proselytes on Facebook. Don't ask me how, I don't get trained for about another 4 weeks. During that hour I usually do stuff I can only do in wifi (read emails, look at different Mormon messages and bible videos and download them for later). To be honest I really forget what happened after that... We met with Katie. We basically meet with her every day and it's awesome. She's super chill and we can goof off around her.

We went out to visit Jerry around 11 but he was at the laundromat. We visited Katie and her family at her grandpas funeral and found she still had issues with her car. We left and Facebooked until she was ready and then we went over to help her. We thought it would only take a couple hours but it ended up taking almost all day. Elder Lane changed out the thermostat which was in like the weirdest place ever. I don't know junk about cars so Elder Lane kinda took the reins while I chatted with Katie and kept her kids entertained. Kinda sucks that it took so much time but it was nice to help out Katie. We ate at Arby's and tried to go see Tamra at her work but she was gone running errands.

 We got up and went to church. It was awesome today because 5 investigators showed up so that was pretty sweet. Katie and her kids, Tamra, Kim and Jerry, and Mark. The speakers in sacrament talked about service and it was the sisters turn to teach gospel principles and they taught about faith and acting on it. In priesthood we watched Elder Holland's talk "Safety for the Soul" which I love and have read about 50 times before. I think it caught Jerry's attention. It was cool. We came home and had lunch and we went to drop in to see Katie at the park but of course we do live in Florida where it rains pretty much all the time. So had to go to her house and talked for a bit. We showed her a little video about being a mom by Jeffrey R. Holland. We  came back and had personal study which was freaking sweet.  Y'all should read the talk "Two Principles for any Economy" by Uchtdorf. Super good. We ate dinner and felt like we should go see Larry so we did. He's still struggling a little so he talked to us about that and we talked to him about Adam and Eve and the fall because he had heard some different theory's on it so we showed him the book of Moses so hopefully he'll read that. Then we went over to the Barber's for weekly scripture study with them. Me and Elder Lane always jam out to Sons of Provo in the car and he's singing it as I type. The things you think are cool when your a missionary...

(Note: These are answers to some of our questions)

We can read emails anytime but can only write on P-day. We have the most awesome ward ever but everyone is so busy running their farms and other such that we don't really get meals that often so I've come too love hamburger helper, Mac and Cheese, and Ramen. Me and Elder Lane kind of do our own thing around meal time but share leftovers sometimes. We don't really knock on doors too much here. Elder Lane said they'd knocked every door in Starke already. We get a good mix of town/country and visit people in both. We pretty much just work on our own and we do get to watch Gen. Conf. this weekend and hopefully bring investigators to it! Miss you and love you!

Elder Toolson

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

My First Week in Starke!

September 23, 2014

Hey Y'all,

     The last week at the MTC was pretty uneventful other than saying goodbye to all of my buddies leaving for Jamaica and Ghana. Elder Jernigan (scriptural genius, redhead, probably a future general authority), Elder Jarvis (stud, looked like he was 25 but he's 18), and Elder Ozment (freaking crazy, from Tulsa,OK--He knows the Enkeys!!!, and apparently his grandma wrote two primary songs). Anyways they are all going to Jamaica. And the Ghana Elders, Elder Snow (my rival, we "fought" a lot haha, and we had the same birthday), Elder Wilson (freaking weirdo extraordinaire, can't take a normal picture and kept doing some hilarious figure 8 dance thing), and Elder Verdoni (hilarious dude from Mesa, AZ and he has an amazing fake English accent that he does, oh and he lives like 10 minutes away from where I lived). Anyways, we all said goodbye at like 3:00 a.m. and headed off to the airport bus. Me and Elder Hadfield just talked about nonsense until we got there. 

We got in and through security and sat waiting for the payphones for like an hour. Sooooo many Elders and Sisters. I finally got to call dad for like 8 minutes before we had to board. I sat next to Sis. Taylor (also going to JAX, FL) and this guy named Jared for the first flight. Jared was a member and had a brother that served in JAX. He served in the Tokyo South Mission. So I talked to him for a while about his family, job, junk like that. It was cool talking to him. 

We stopped off in Atlanta and barely had time to grab a snack and hop on the plane (sorry mom!!!). Me and Sis. Taylor sat together again and this time the 3rd seat was empty so I took the window seat. As we were about to leave we had to wait because guess what? Freaking Air Force One was in Atlanta! So anyways Obama was in Atlanta for who knows why, but it was cool looking at Air force One.

Anyways, behind us on the plane was an R.M.and during the flight I overheard him talking to the lady behind me and teaching her about the gospel because she was wondering who all the name tags were. Anyways before I left for Provo I felt prompted to bring a BOM with me in my bag. Nothing happened on the way so I'm like okay, whatever. But I kept it in my bag, and about 3/4 of the way through the flight he taps me on the shoulder and asks if I have a BOM on me. So I'm like, heck. yes. and I gave it to him. Prompting Answered.

We arrived and were met by Pres. and Sis. Craig and the AP's Elder Cordon and Elder Layton. We got our bags and headed to the mission home. Florida is beautiful! About an hour later we arrived and got introduced to southern food. We had barbecue and cheesy grits. Straight up delicious. I'm gonna love it here. We had a small devotional and went to feed the geese at a pond. President Craig interviewed us one by one until it was time to leave. Me and Elder Riley (hilarious) stayed the nights at the Atkinson's (mission office workers) and Elder Riley made us some guacamole haha.

Wednesday was Insane! we woke at 6:30 and got ready and headed out to the church for training. It was super boring and lasted forever. Not even worth mentioning. I got the iPad which I've already grown to hate a little (more trouble than it's worth). We met our new companion/trainer and I got Elder Lane. He a pretty cool, funny guy. So we had transfer meeting where they welcomed us and had all the departing missionaries bear their testimony. It was cool. We got in a truck with Brother Barber who lives in Starke, my first area. And I literally almost died 20 minutes into the drive. Brother Barber (an older guy) missed the left turn lane and decided to go for it anyways. We basically threaded the needle through oncoming traffic and he didn't even flinch. He dropped us off at our house. Our house. Yeah we live in a house and it's awesome. 

I dumped my stuff and we headed to the church to Facebook proselyte til 5. Then we met with a current investigator Katie. She has two kids,is hilarious, and probably the most awesome person I've ever met. We talked to her for 3 hours and had an awesome experience! After we left she called us and said that someone from her church butt dialed her and said some things about her being a mess and needing a lot of work. She said she's never going back to that church and texted us saying, 1) I'm going to church with you on Sunday and 2) I'm quitting smoking Monday. IT was a Miracle of God. We also visited a less active, Larry, who lives in a super small apartment. He struggles with sleep a lot and has been struggling to get to church. So we showed him a video about not procrastinating the day of your repentance. Insane first day. 

Got and went for a walk around the block with Elder Lane for exercise and came back to shower, personal, and comp study. We left about 9:15 to my first district meeting. It was cool. I love my district. Afterwards we ate at Taco Bell with Elder Dean and Elder Greenlaw who are legit the funniest people. WE headed back and did service at the food pantry from about 1-3. We went back home showered and went off to Facebook (I have to wait 6 weeks until I can) so I just chill. We went over to Katie's house and started talking to her for a while. She went to go get dinner, so while she did that we dropped in on Kim and Jerry. Only Kim was there though. We chatted a little and she has been reading in BOM so that's sweet. We headed back to Katie's and had an awesome discussion with her. We started off talked about the purpose of life and the Plan of Salvation but the topic switched to the restoration. We showed her a video called testimony of the Book of Mormon. she started tearing up a little and said that she'd seen that before but that wasn't even close to her experience the first time. She said she had gained a personal revelation and then started freaking out because she'd never heard that word or used it before. So we ended the discussion and headed home. She texted saying that now she knew the BOM was true. SO many miracles happening.

We did our morning routine and visited Kim and Jerry. We asked them how scripture reading was going showed them a little video. We help Katie out with her car, because apparently its overheating so we flushed out her radiator and put some coolant in and stuff like that. We went home and weekly planned after. Both of us hate it and it takes FOREVER. We Facebooked and went back over to Katie's to have dinner (fried chicken and macaroni salad) and I met her 2 kids. They are so dang cute! They are both 3 and are hilarious. They kept whispering, "Jesus lives in your heart to us" Her car wasn't fixed and we can't figure what it is.

We left to clean the church around 11 today. Brother Kelly was there too. I vacuumed all the rooms which wasn't that bad because it's a tiny chapel. We went home ate lunch and then Facebooked. We visited the park and talked to Katie. I played with her kids a bit (she says they don't usually take to people the way they have to us and it's awesome.) We shared Mosiah 16:8 with her to help her deal with a trial that she is having. We ate dinner and went to have a lesson with Tamra who already has a baptismal date of October 12. We taught her the Law of Chastity and a little about repentance. She seems really enthusiastic which is awesome. We tried a few investigators after that but they weren't home.  We visited the Burketts and talked to them. He has an insane life story.

We woke up got ready and went to church at 9. I got to meet the whole ward because there were maybe 30 people tops there. We had 3 investigators come! Jerry and Kim, who are solid, and Katie and her kids. Yet another miracle happened with Katie. The night before she texted us, saying that she couldn't come. She told us Sunday morning that she couldn't sleep last night and that never happened. So she said to herself, Okay God, I'm going to church tomorrow and fell asleep immediately. So yeah. Afterwards we ate lunch at the Underwood's, members in the ward. We had personal and comp study after that and went to visit Sis Jones. She is super nice and we talked with her and her kid Nicholas, who's awesome. 

Monday is usually P-day but we had Zone conference literally all day. I learned a lot but man are they brutal. We got up at 5 and left around 6 for the hour ride to Gainesville for it. We met up with a few other Elders and went. Elder Golden of the seventy talked with us from 7am to 4pm along with his wife and President Craig. After that we trekked back, Facebooked and went over to Katie's because she had some questions from church the day before. So we talked about the Plan of Salvation, specifically the 3 kingdoms of glory and spirit paradise and prison. It's awesome that she's asking all the questions.

I missed a lot of detail, but my session is almost up so e-mail y'all next week

Elder Toolson

Thursday, September 18, 2014

This Is Happening

September 17, 2014

Hey. Parents, 

They're letting me email you today to tell you that I'm

alive. We went through all sorts of training today. And now I'm in Starke, FL with my trainer Elder Lane. We should be meeting with an investigator any minute soooo yeah I guess this is my life now haha.

Don't worry I'm doing good. Email ya Monday.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Alive in Jacksonville, Florida

September 16, 2014

Hey mom and dad.

I'm alive and in Florida.  Sorry I didn't get the chance to call you mom.  I ran out of time on our layover. I'm doing good. We had some southern cooking for dinner and I get sent to my first area tomorrow! Email you on P-day (Monday). Love you.

David left the MTC around 3:30 a.m.  He was able to talk to Scott for about 10 minutes this morning at the airport in Salt Lake.  He was supposed to call me on his layover in Atlanta but as he said, was unable to.  I think his flight landed in Jacksonville around 3:00 p.m. EDT. I can't wait to hear from him on Monday.  I think there might be pictures of him on The Mission Blog as they post pictures of new missionaries arriving.  

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The MTC Experience

September 10, 2014

Hey Y'all! I finally made it to P-day. I thought it would never come haha. I'll try and answer some of your questions and just tell you what it's been like.

I was probably the most nervous I've ever been in my entire life stepping out of that car and Katie can probably testify that I looked like I had just seen a ghoul. I got herded through the new missionary lines and got all my junk. My official lookin' nametag, a bunch of pamphlets and stuff like that. A host showed me to my room for like 2 minutes and then threw me into class. We studied for like 5 minutes and met everyone. Elder Hadfield is my companion and he's a pretty awesome dude. He's from Brigham City and pretty chill. He's also our District Leader which makes me comp to the District Leader. Anyways my entire room is headed to Florida. Me, Elder Hadfield, Elder Averett, who is freaking hilarious. He gets my sarcasm and has plenty of his own to dish out. Elder Ferrier, he sleeps under me (I got top bunk) and for the most part he's a pretty quiet dude. I'll admit he kinda creeped me out at first cuz he never says anything and he mutters under his breath all the time. He reminds me of Brick from The Middle. Elder Nielson is a freaking massive dude and is very very very outspoken. I'll just leave it at that. Ummm and last in our room is Elder McCalister. He's from Cali and he's pretty chill too. Anyways were all best buddies now and walk around the MTC singing and doing stupid things. Which is what it's all 'bout right? Anyways we headed out to meet the MTC Presidency with the rest of the new guys and that was pretty cool. We had dinner and everywhere hates and loves the food at the same time. It's weird cuz the food is good but you eat soo much here that eating really becomes more of a hobbie than a necessity. That night we had a thing where like 50 of us new guys talked to 3 different investigators and tried to talk to them. Well it went terrible since of course it's the first day, but it kinda made me realize how much I have to learn.

We started off the morning kinda wandering around and just talking and realized by the time it was over that we were supposed to be studying... oops. Anyways we all chatted in class for like ten minutes before lunch and after lunch I discovered my favorite thing about the MTC. GYM TIME. I tried out a bunch of different things and found my calling in four square. Me and Floridans play with all the Russians and they are like the coolest people ever. So funny. That night we met our branch presidency and our Branch Pres., President Pickering. We sat there and read Preach My Gospel while he and a counselor of his interviewed us to see who would be District Leader and as I said before it turned out to be my companion! So that was cool.

It was a super awesome yet super humbling day. We had all our fun stuff in the morning like a service project and gym time (I know it sounds sarcastic but here it's the bomb). Then after we had class for basically the rest of the day Sister Mitchell and Brother Belliston are our teachers. Sister Mitchell taught us first and me and Elder Hadfield taught our first investigator which is her. She pretends to be someone named Debi and we have to teach her every day that we have class with Sister Mitchell. Well the first day kinda sucked but hey it's all part of the learning curve right? I kinda got off topic and confused myself and her a little bit, but I've gotten better!

We finally got into the regular schedule and in the morning in between breakfast and lunch we have 3 hours for personal, companion and additional study time, which 9 times out often means we chat it up and spend like 20 mins preparing, haha. Oh I forgot to mention three other elders in our district are going to Ghana. Elder Snow, Elder Verdoni, and Elder Wilson. Me and Elder Snow have a friendly rivalry going on and we always pick on each other and junk like that. Oh and were like twins too. We have the same socks, same birthday, and kinda the same personality. Pretty cool. Elder Verdoni is from from Mesa, AZ and apparently I live like 10 mins. away from him so that was cool. And Elder Wilson is from Missouri and we get along great. We got our first taste of freedom and went out to the fields to play soccer until it started raining like half an hour later and we had to come back.

Probably the most spiritual Sunday of my life. We hung out with Branch P in the morning until we went to sacrament with our zone and had testimony meeting. It was really cool to hear from the other missionaries that had been here longer and were heading off to Jamiaca and the West Indies in a couple days. Then we had an Awesome devotional where the speaker invited 2 convert missionaries to the stand to share their stories. I don't have the time to tell you but it was awesome. We stayed after that and heard the most amazing talk ever that probably changed my entire view on being a missionary and about life.

We straight up want to get out of here already everyone is losing their minds in here cuz we have class like 6 hours a day. Awesome day though. I got 2 Packages! thank you mom! But we taught our investigator Debi and me and Elder Hadfield finally got through to her and got her to have a meaningful experience which made me feel awesome. That night though they had us do this thing called TRc where we teach a progressive inestigator. Except ALL 9 of us in our district were supposed to teach one person so of course it was a train wreck but we have it again tonight so well see how that goes.

 Highlight of the day: I did the banana challenge because everyone dared me too. Apparently if you eat a 2 bananas and chug a sprite you'll throw up. Well I didn;t throw up cuz I'm just a boss but I felt like it for like the next four hours.
We all went to class with Sis. Mitchell and we taught Debi again and had a good lesson. Ever since Monday it's been getting a whole lot easier. After that we hit up the gym and played some four square with the russians. Before the MTC I had no idea that four square could get so intense. These pros that have been here for like weeks are like putting spins on and it's freaking ridiculous. We had a devotional with some black guy from the seventy (I forget his name) and that was pretty decent. We went back to class and discussed it until like 9:30 and went to bed.

Which brings us to to today. P-day is the greatest thing on earth! It's so fun to mess with all the new missionaries that we used to be like a week ago. We went to the temple this morning and it was preety cool to be able to do that as a district and here I am right now. Doing laundry and email on a computer in the basement. I guess I'll tell you some other cool things that have happened. Elder Verdoni has the most ON POINT chipmunk you've ever heard in your life. Elder Vauss from the other district can do this mega loud rooster that freaks the crap out of everyone. I was like in tears. A couple nights ago we all saw Elder Crockett (left for Michigan today) freaking lockpicking his door and we all watched.
We have mountains of food! Like you can't even see the table in our room. I'll try and get a picture to ya.

I can't think of anything else soooo when I write again I'll be in Florida!

Elder Toolson

Friday, September 5, 2014

Mission District Pics--love you

September 5, 2014

I received four pictures from David on September 5.  I consider it my birthday present to know he is alive and well.  There were five words--Mission District Pics--love you.  Best five words ever!!

Back Row: Elder Ferrier, Elder Nielsen, Elder Toolson, Elder Snow
Front Row: Elder McAlister, Elder Hadfield, Elder Wilson, Elder Averett, Elder Verdoni

Elder Toolson (top bunk), Elder Ferrier, Elder Averett, Elder Hadfield, Elder Nielsen, 
Elder McAlister

Back Row: Elder Nielsen, Elder Hadfield, Elder Snow, Elder Ferrier, Elder Toolson
Front Row: Elder Wilson, Elder Averett, Elder Verdoni, Elder McAlister
Elder Hadfield, and Elder Toolson