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 We had to leave around 3:20 to go to the Townsend's for Dinner, but we followed Elder Warren's mega outdated GPS and ended up on some sketchy back roads.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