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

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