Monday, August 31, 2015

Lots of Rain and Bashing

August 31, 2015

Hey y'all!
    This week was pretty decent. On last p-day Elder Smith had bike problems so we had to fix that before we came back. We biked almost all week, about 6 out of the 7 days. We met a super nice Jehovah's Witness guy and some guy tried to make us angry by saying we were of the devil and he asked if he could say a prayer for us that our eyes might be opened... Anyways. 

This week was weird.  I've had the most bashes ever happen this week. I think 4 happened this week, and I was pretty good about stopping on the first three but on the fourth I was just in a very tired, not caring mood, so I indulged--the first time since the beginning of my mission since I did that. It was with this college kid, but I ended up "winning" and he asked for our number and wants to come check out our church now, so I guess the results were good, although that's not what usually happens.

Tuesday we had an amazing lesson with Anne and brought a member of the ward, Sis. Blaylock with us. They got along super well and the Spirit was super strong. Side note: the Blaylocks are awesome. They fed us about 3 different times last week. We also saw Andrea, a recent convert, that night and she's doing awesome! She is on track to receive her patriarchal blessing on the 13th.

 Wednesday was a decently slow day so we tried a bunch of people and went to Book of Mormon class that night. On Thursday we biked out to Andrea's and mowed her lawn. I think I about killed Elder Smith that day. It's about an 16 mile bike round trip in addition to service haha. I mowed about half the yard and asked him if he wanted to do the other half and he took a rain check. Poor guy. That night we met some new people about five minutes before we came in for the night. They met with missionaries in the past and are decently interested. It started down pouring during the lesson and we were on bikes so we got soaked head to toe during the short 5 min. bike back. 

Friday we had weekly planning for a while and I got soaking wet. It started to downpour after we ate dinner so I wanted to put my rain coat on... Couldn't find it. So I just sucked it up and had a grand old time knocking doors that evening. Saturday we biked a lot and helped a less  active lady paint her apartment--in our church clothes. And we came out clean somehow. Call it the spirit. We had dinner at Sister Sugar's house. She made possibly the biggest mess of spaghetti I've ever seen in my life. I had 5 to 6 plates of spaghetti, 2 or 3 bowls of salad and a bowl of jello and we didn't even put a dent in it. Good gracious. 

Sunday was pretty busy. No one came to church so that was super depressing but we got to see Frank at church! He's in job corps so we never get to see him any more so that was a blessing to see him. We had dinner with the Chihuahuas in our ward and they made us some super good tacos. We took a priest out with us that night, Timothy, and had fantastic lessons with Ron and Donna. They switched up the sacrament that day at church too. They did a fifth Sunday lesson on the importance of the sabbath day. So they had the speakers first in sacrament and had the sacrament at the end and everyone combined for third hour. It was pretty good. One of the things President Holland said in the clips is that the sacrament is the most repeatable ordinance in the church, every seven days, and is the only one that we do multiple times for ourselves. I thought that was super interesting. Elder Andersen also said that the phrase we use "renew our baptismal covenants" is not found in the scriptures and shouldn't be the basis of our talks about it. 

Love you all and hope you have a great week.

Elder Toolson

Also, here is a picture of an elephant statue we found at this house knocking doors. This place had all sorts of weird Indian stuff.

Transfer Week

August 24, 2015 *(I forgot to post this last week)

Hey Y'all!
     So this week has been pretty good. We've been doing a lot of biking since we are almost out of miles for the month. So me and Elder Coy went to transfers on Wednesday with Elder Martin (a senior missionary) and we ended up getting there a little bit late. Oops. So I went into the gym and they always have all the new missionaries practice street contacting people and it's really funny to see how awkward I used to be haha. 

We did that and I had to go to training meetings for most of the day where they teach you how to be a trainer. It was pretty good. We went to the room and met all of the trainees and told us who our new companion is going to be. I'm with Elder Smith. He's 18 and came right out of high school. He's from Sandy,UT. This has been a lot of stress because he's brand new so he still is in that mode that I used to be in, just sort of looking around like, is this real? 

Anyway we drove back from transfers and me and Elder Martin talked most of the time. He's pretty awesome. He even took us out for shakes at Powells in Starke, a place me and Elder Lane used to frequent quite often. So we got back and went straight to teaching the Book of Mormon class that night. After that I took him shopping to get his stuff and we came in for the night. 

Thursday we were on bikes all day and it was pretty brutal. No one was home that day--it was weird. BUT, at the end of the night about 15 minutes or so before we were about to head I felt like we should check on someone we knocked into who had surgery. And she was home and doing well and we had a lesson with her. Definitely a tender mercy that we at least got to teach someone that day. 

Friday we saw Retha (recent convert) and we found this guy Michael on the street. He was pretty nice and said we could come by and teach him. We also called up another recent convert, Pauline and had a mini lesson with her over the phone because she is up in Savannah, GA right now. We also had dinner with the Dahls that night too. They are awesome and their kids are hiliarious. We had a good time. People here seriously feed us the best food. She fed us chicken cordon bleu and we ate stuffed scallops and salmon last night, but I'll get to that. #spoiled. 

Saturday we did ridiculous amounts of biking. Side note, whenever we get home Elder Smith is always fascinated at how many miles we biked that day and asks me how far we went. I think Saturday was a 30-35 mile day. We biked out to some apartments to try and see some people but only got some return appointments which is still pretty good. We biked over and had dinner at the McDonalds. I always get what they call the "mcAwesome" which is a mcdouble add mac sauce and a mcChicken stacked on top of each other. It's fantastic and cheap and filling. Anyways we biked out and knocked some doors in a pretty wealthy neighborhood. Not a whole lot of success. I've really learned that the humble are the ones 9 times out of 10 who are willing to listen. We saw Andrea (a recent convert) and after that and I had Elder Smith take the lead in teaching the Restoration. It went pretty well. We biked over and saw Anne and Nancy as well and read from the BOM with them. 

Yesterday we had church and had a couple investigators show up so that was good. We had to help a second hour youth class learn how to respond to their friends when they get asked what the church thinks about gays and marriage and temples, etc. I think I made it pretty fun and enjoyable while still teaching them. I LOVE teaching the youth because for some reason I can just get my point across better to them. All of the converts/ people I have helped so far have been under 30 now that I think about it haha. After church we had dinner with the Blaylocks in the ward and they made us stuffed oyster, and salmon and key lime pie, all of which were new introductions to my diet, but I loved it, it was SO good. We found out later that night that Retha was in the hospital so we went over with our ward mission leader and I gave her a blessing. Please pray for her if you would. We ended the night teaching a Hindu man. It was rather difficult. We don't run into too many non Christians and the ones we do are adamantly against it, so we had to try and take a different approach. WE eventually got him to take a Book of Mormon but he wants to study on his own for now. Oh well. 

Speaking of study, I finished the Book of Mormon this week for the first time on my mission!!! Pretty sad right? It took me A WHILE to get through it all. so now I get to start all over again! :) Something that David A. Bednar suggested  in a talk he gave at the MTC was that when Book of Mormon study gets old or hard, pick a topic you want to study and read through the BOM on that topic. So I chose change of heart (or lack thereof) and the atonement of Jesus Christ. It'll be fun. Also, I've been  in love with this video lately, it is super powerful to me. so check it out. Y'all have a good week!

Elder Toolson 

(**He did not attach a video, so not sure what he is referring to.)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

I Love to See the Temple, and I'm Going to be a Dad!

August 20, 2015

Hey Y'all! 
      Sorry I didn't email last week. I typed out a pretty long email and it somehow got deleted. So I got frustrated and thought I sent out a small one but I guess that didn't work either. Whoops. So I guess I'll catch you up on the major events from the past 2 weeks. I went to the temple! It was amazing! Very spiritual experience for me, and the Orlando Temple is gorgeous. We had a great road trip and I talked to Elder Averett and Elder McAlister for like 2 hours. We also stopped at the Florida Citrus Center on the way back and saw some baby gators. 

In other news I forgot if I told you, but PATRICK GOT BAPTISED!!!!!! And he has the priesthood! That man is going to be a kingdom builder. 

Last piece of big news, I'm going to be dad!!! (Not literally , mission wise, AkA I'm training a new missionary.) I have no clue what his name is yet though... I find out tomorrow. Wish me luck! 

So this past week has been awesome, I hope I'll be here to be able see some baptisms coming up. I had some bike issues this past week so I spent two to three days riding 20+ miles on a flat. But this week has been awesome, I'm going to miss Elder Coy, but looking forward to new adventures. Y'all have a good week!

Elder Toolson

This is a letter he received from Patrick. David found and taught Patrick but did not get to baptize him because he was transferred right before the baptism.  There is a picture of Patrick below.
Hey Elder, It's me Patrick!!! How are ya dude? I hope all is well with you in your new area. I know I didn't get to say much the day you left I was so bummed and sad. It's only been 3 days and I miss you so much man. In the past 2 months you and Elder Sunderland have taught me so much about the church and even myself. Through you guys I felt I was getting reintroduced to God. I'm glad you guys came in my life when you did because you guys were right on time. I feel more confident and more assured now than ever. I can't wait to be to an official member of the church and we can literally and spiritually be brothers. I wish you well on your mission Elder you are always in my prayers God sent me more than I could ask for he sent me a new church home and new friends. I know we will see each other again no doubt about it. Oh yeah I will also send pictures of my baptism to you I really wish you could be here for it. Hopefully just maybe God willing I can see you at the temple. God bless you Elder Toolson Love you my brother.Emoji

Mowing a yard in our proselyting clothes

Still Mowing in those clothes

Temple Road Trip
Front: Elder Nielsen, Elder Payne
Middle: Elder Averett, Elder McAlister, Elder Toolson

Me at the temple with Pres. and Sister Craig

 A picture of Elder Barcala, (left) Patrick (center), Elder Sunderland (front) and Dustin Musgrove (back right) (a member in Waycross).
 Baby gators at the Citrus Center.

Me saying goodbye to Frank.
Frank is a super cool member we take out with us 
like every day
Gainesville District

(A member sent this picture to us with this note)

Hello from Gainesville,

Here is a photo of your son.  He was helping hang some stuff on the stage.  I had them help me recreate a sealing room for a YW lesson.

He is doing well and is a good missionary.  I feed him when I can.

All the best

Tammy Aagard

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Pictures From the Mission Blog

August 5, 2015

Elder Curtis, Elder Toolson
Elder Curtis, Elder Toolson, Elder Barcala

 I know this isn't technically a picture of him but even a side profile does a mother good.

Rainstorms and Thick Skin #ihatetrials

August 5, 2015
Hey Y'all! 
This week has been awesome! We've been out working hard, sweating our faces off.

Tuesday we had district meeting. I had to give a training on Repentance and I think it was probably the best training I've given yet on the mission. I know that it was the Holy Ghost that made it. It's weird because 90% of the time I have no clue what I'm saying but I can feel myself saying something. Anyways, we did a lot of biking after that, and saw Retha. We biked all the way over to the church and ate dinner with Bishop's family that night. It was great! Bishop Nance is probably the most on-top-of-it Bishop I've ever seen. He's great. We had a killer 7-8 mile bike out to this place called Brook Side and saw this little boy Mark. We rode back and knocked doors super late at night and found this lady Michelle, but she won't be home for the next few weeks.... 

Wednesday was probably the absolute craziest day all week. We rode all over the place and no one was home. We were going to do service for Bro. Willingham but it started raining and thundering on our way over. So we tried waiting it out and sharing a message but it just kept getting worse and worse and it was a crazy bad rainstorm. It actually knocked over this massive tree in front of the neighborhood so we had to take the long way out. It was nuts, I'll attach a picture. We had dinner with them and I tried sauerkraut and cranberry ginger ale for the first time (Sis. Willingham is German). It was pretty good.  We went to Book of Mormon class that night. We didn't have much time to prepare, so I kind of left Elder Coy in the dust when it came to time to teach it, whoops. As opposed to me not being able to speak to anyone when I first came out, I've gotten into the really bad habit of "sermonizing" people and just straight preaching to them. It's pretty bad sometimes. I'm working on it though! Also I had the realization that day that missionaries develop a pretty thick skin haha. We stopped and talked to this lady and she got all mad and called us A-holes and we were trying to keep from laughing hysterically until we had put some distance between the two of us.  Luckily we succeeded haha. 

Thursday I started this new thing in my journal where I pick a hashtag that describes the day. It's pretty sweet. So Thursday was #ihatetrials. It was a long day, with a lot of biking, but we finally caught this investigator who had dropped off the face of the earth since Sunday walking back to her house from the mailbox and stopped her. I'm not sure we would have gotten back in otherwise. Miracles! God's timing is perfect. I mean seriously, what are the chances? 

Friday was #ghettoprobs. We had weekly planning that day and saw an investigator who I hadn't seen since the first day I was here. We went out to Archer and tracked in this neighborhood. It was rough and we ended up leaving after twenty minutes. All the little kids were asking us if we were the police or the tax collectors and following us from door to door and these two guys down the street were playing this super loud, super vulgar, rap music and the Spirit was just gone. So we went somewhere a little quieter to finish up. 

Saturday was awesome! Me and Elder Coy were both in fantastic moods all day and were just having a grand old time. We went to the YSA Elder's baptism in the morning and it was great. Afterwards, we helped out Sister Aagard set up for her lesson on Sunday at the church. She wanted to make a sealing room out of the stage and it actually turned out awesome. It took almost two hours though. We did some tracking and were just belting it to the chorus between doors. We were singing the entire time. It was weird and something I wouldn't normally do, but it was fun. We totally skipped this one house because it had about seven super mean geese hanging out in the driveway. It was scary.

Yesterday was great because Nancy came to church and the rest of the day was pretty unmentionable. Y'all have a great week! Also, Patrick got baptized this week! I'm really sad I couldn't see it, but he's so awesome, I'm super happy!  

▪️Elder Toolson▪️

Me in my wedding tie holding my mailbox

The tree blocking the road in storm

  Me and Elder Coy (I look like I have a lazy eye...)

Breakfast of Champs! Dr. Pepper and grits.

Flying by the Spirit

July 27, 2015

Hey Y'all!
     This week has been a crazy one that's for sure. Lots of ups and downs. Monday we saw Ann E., one of our baptismal dates and taught her the Plan of Salvation. We also met this guy Paul sitting on his porch and talked to him for a little bit. 

Tuesday we had a lesson with Retha, a recent convert. She is one of my favorite people to visit. We knocked into this guy Max later in the day. He was awesome! He let us know right up front he wasn't interested but we kept talking and he offered us some water and invited us in. We ended up talking for a solid half hour about the differences in the beliefs of Presbyterians and Mormons. Just a solid guy and an example of how it should be when we have different faiths. 

Wednesday we had a super good district meeting. The AP's decided to show so that was interesting. We all went to lunch afterwards at a Mexican joint, la Tiendas. They had this massive thing called a Torta Cubana that we all got. It was HUGE. I was on a trade-off with Elder Purcell that day in High Springs (a tiny town right above Gainesville) and we had a ton of fun. He actually trained Elder Averett who came out with me. We saw a bunch of people and I got to meet a Hare Krishna, which are apparently super common in High Springs. It was fun though. I totally robbed them blind. (*I asked him what he meant by this and he said he just convinced them to give him some of their stuff*) I made away with two tennis rackets and a keyboard. So now we can play tennis in the morning and I'm relearning how to play the piano. 

Thursday was an interesting day, we basically had heatstroke. The highlight of the day was when we knocked on this recent convert's door, and Elder Coy just starts giggling out of nowhere and then I start laughing, and then we're both just in absolute hysterics at the door and both of us are crying... For no reason. It was a weird day haha.

Friday we saw Ron and Howard at night and Ron totally called me out because he thought I had prepared all these scriptures that I was just whipping out left and right, but I said that I was just flying by the Spirit and I never have any idea what I'm going to say when I go into a lesson and he gave me props so that was awesome. 

Saturday and Sunday were uneventful days. Saturday we spent getting lost in Newberry trying to find names the bishop gave us. Sunday Ron showed up to church so that was good and saw Retha again later that night.

▪️Elder Toolson▪️