Monday, December 28, 2015

Don't sacrifice happiness for pride

Hello Everyone!

Jacqueline Anderson sent me a list of Jedi/missionary comparisons, and I just want you to know that I am inestimably happy over that list. I do believe that my life has been made. For some reason my love for Star Wars is amplified here, but don´t worry, the Gospel is ever my focus.

Can I start out this week with a shout out to all the people who are supporting me? Do every single person that has sent me a package, or letter, or email, or love, or nice thoughts, or who has been my friend, I want you to know that you are making a difference in my life, and through me, the lives of many people here in Costa Rica. Although I am not perfect in my giving of thanks, let it be known that from the depths of my heart I am deeply grateful. An I ain´t sayin that lightly! The love that has been shown to me is changing me. I am a better person, and therefore a better missionary, because of all of you. I worry that you don´t know. But I know. This week has been hard, mostly because my trainer and I are struggling. Holy cats Batman the struggle is real. Two people with diverse faults are put together and fireworks result. Between my (at times) intimidating desire to communicate, and his desire to not have conflict, problems have ensued. But I can say with honesty that I love him, and that slowly things are improving. And in this process I am becoming a much better person. All the pride got stripped away and I realized that I am willing to do whatever necessary to be a good missionary, a good person, and someday a good husband and father. That being said, I am one stubborn son of a gun. So here´s the lesson I learned this week: Don´t sacrifice happiness for pride. It sucks.

The mission conference was pretty cool, we spent the night before in the house of the APs with other missionaries. So naturally I initiated a bunch of strength contests. The thing about central Americans is that by nature they are a tad bit small. So I ruled the coop until an older, biggerThr (he weighed like 220 fetchin pounds) white guy came in. Although I lost, respect was founded, and friendships were made. Never-mind the fact that the next couple of days I couldn't move my right shoulder. I´m a manly man. we don´t feel pain (that is for my brothers and Uncle Matthew).

My mission president is pretty darn cool, even though he doesn't speak much English. He´s also very strict. But out here in Santa Cruz, we rarely feel the effect of that. No I have yet to see any missionaries from the east mission. I believe there are about 60 pairs of missionaries, so 120 in all. It´s a five hour trip there and back, which I love. I´m a fan of buses in general, I get to think, and look at the country side. Seats are assigned so there aren´t many proselytizing opportunities. Wanna hear something crazy? Here in Costa Rica, there are certain places where they make you pay to use the bathroom! So you´re paying to eat the food, an payin to eliminate it. The nerve!

Mashing potatoes the ghetto way. I am using plastic bottles!
My APs are pretty chill, I really don´t have much contact with them as a greenie. Christmas day was literally just a regular day, it was strange because it really felt nothing like Christmas, which saddened me, but then I tthought, "What better way to the celebrate the birth of a man who spent His entire life in service, than through service?"

I must sign off for today.

With love,

Elder Toney

Feliz Navidad

Hello Everyone!

We have shortened email time because of Christmas, so this email will be shortened as well.

So I had my first baptism this week!
It was amazing, I wish I had time to describe more, but suffice it to say that I felt warmth in my heart knowing that I had helped bring joy to someone, because I saw in my investigators face (now newly baptized member) a hope for a better life. On the same day there was a wedding and then baptism for two investigators of the other missionaries in our area, and I was told that I would be baptizing them because the man was rather hefty. (Flexes biceps impressively.) I guess all that weight lifting had a purpose after all!

So this past week we had what is called the week of sacrifice, where we get up, have shortened studies, and work hard (hard) from ten in the morning to 9 at night, with a shortened lunch break of 20 to 30 minutes. For most of the week I was with one of the mission leaders in my area, called splits. It´s a great opportunity to learn from someone who´s been here a lot longer than I. I absolutely loved working with him, although at the end of the day I fell into my bed, absolutely dead. I also got a wonderfully deep sunburn. Now to all those mothers out there who at the very moment of reading this are shaking their fingers and saying in an exasperated voice "Why in Heavens name did you not wear sunscreen you silly boy?" I would just like to say that I have been here a month and a half and not ONCE have I needed sunscreen. The sun just had it out for me this week, Okay? I may happen to look like an over ripe tomato, but I am not (overly) stupid.

The last thing we did that was a lot of fun was for the ward Christmas party. You will have to refer to the picture because there is absolutely no way I can describe it, but golly was it funny.

What strengthens my faith when I´m down? I leaned something in my studies this week, it´s that faith is a process of patience. My faith most certainly is not perfect. I lack almost too much of that which a good person should have. But when in doubt, I fall to my knees in the most sincere and honest prayers I have ever offered. To my intensely logical mind, I love the fact that faith is testable. Meaning that by doing things like attending church, praying, reading in the scriptures, we can see if the seed of faith is good by watching to see if it grows. If we have feeling of peace and love in our hearts. That helps me :) Unflinching honesty in the face of our faults.

Love Y´all.

Oh fine. Feliz Navidad. I hope you´re happy.


Elder Noah M. Toney

Saturday, December 19, 2015

December in Santa Cruz


December is HOT. It is a bit of a shock when I look at the calendar and see that it´s December, and that I´m sweating while I do it! Okay so Santa Cruz is a mid-sized town, about the size of Avon I think. The people are very laid back, at times that is a significant obstacle in getting them to attend church. There are muuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuchas fiestas, which is a bummer because that means that all of the people are out drinking in the streets, and no one is in their homes to receive us. But the people are also very friendly once you get to know them, and that´s when I love this work. I realized something (finally) this week. It´s that I really love this people. I really want to do everything I can for them, and as I tell them, I´m here in Costa Rica because I found something in the Gospel of this church that took my life and made it better. That gave me hope, and a much brighter future. I found a better, happier way to live. I´m here to share that. The point is happiness, more than that - joy. I love that simple truth. That we can, and even are supposed to, be joyful.

Transportation? By the incredibly cheap form of walking. I´m glad walking is good for my health, because there is an inordinate amount of it. My apartment is pretty groovy, but also ghetto. Our toilet doesn´t have the seat part, nor does the bathroom door stay closed. There are also bugs EVERYWHERE, but EVERYWHERE. Flipping tiny ants get into absolutely everything. I have no doubts that I have accidentally ingested more than a few. As I write that I realize how nasty that is...Oh well. For breakfast there´s eggs, rice, and beans. Lunch is always good because our cook knows what he´s doing. Dinner is usually at 10:00 o´clock at night and generally consists of rice and beans. And tortillas. Did I mention rice and beans yet? But seriously I love rice and beans cause they are cheap and plentiful. Christmas here usually involves lots of food (THANK GOODNESS) It´s also celebrated on the 24th for some reason. On the 22 we´ll travel to San José for the mission Christmas thingy, I honestly have no idea what that consists of. Because of that I´m not sure when I´ll next be emailing.

How am I surviving? Things are improving. I´m a lot more excited in the mornings now, because I know how important this message is and I dunno, I want to share my happiness. Even though many people are going to reject me, some (hopefully) won´t. And maybe this message will help them. Speaking of which, I learned a little about faith this week. I have always been a tad confused about it, it´s a rather elusive subject. But I think it works like this. It starts with a simple desire to know if all this jazz is true. That´s it, just a desire. How easy. And then we test it. When we do things like reading in the scriptures, pray, attend church. How do we feel? If good, then perhaps the message is true. We continue experimenting, our faith grows "if" it is true. What a simple way to know. This logic appeals to my intensely logical mind. If it´s true, our faith, and desire to do these things, and happiness, will grow, if the message is false, then okay, we don´t need to waste more of our time. But if it is true? How wonderful :) It would mean that there is a well defined way to Heaven, where a God that loves us is waiting. Nifty.

You know sometimes I´m frustrated cause I want to share more, and sometimes I´m sad because right now, I don´t have the blessing of being an active participant in the lives of those I love more than anything. But in some ways, it´s because of that love that I´m here. Know that you all are in my thoughts and prayers, and that I´m working on becoming the best possible missionary (and person) in part for all of you.


Elder Noah M. Toney

P.S.- I have gotten complaints about my use of big words for my closing salutation (mainly from my older brother, who is a third grade teacher. Why is he a teacher for third graders you might ask? Because any word over five letters is "big" to him, love you big brother ;)

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Happy, grateful, and loving the work

Hello Everyone!  We got to the internet café early today because it gets filled quickly.

A word about dogs. Before my mission, I did not hate them. Now I do. They are evil, malicious, hateful creatures whose sole duty in life is to scare the bejeebies out of me.

Not a whole bunch to write this week, sorry.

Funny story: Yesterday we were walking down a dirt road in the jungle when this man calls out to us, "Hey, men of God, Come here!" We turned to go talk with him. He was rather inebriated shall we say. We talked for a bit (well we talked, he swayed drunkenly) and then turned to leave, then he grabbed my companions hand and started crying.  He gave me an awkward hug and left. Random, thy name is drunk.

Lesson: gratitude. If you aren´t happy, it´s because you aren´t grateful. In reality, even if our lives are hard, there is still so much we have been given. Try thinking of your blessings next time you´re sad.

The miracle is that I´m really starting to enjoy the work more. When you love what you´re doing, everything is better!


Elder Noah M. Toney

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Lord will make changes in our lives if we'll only let Him

 Howdy Howdy Everyone!

Sorry I wasn't able to write on Monday, our usual pday.  Instead I went to San José for a checkup with the mission president (all the newbies do it).  And can I say that San José is downright FREAKY. I was walking down the street and this man said (rather loudly) ¨"Witches and Warlocks, there you are" A tad strange.  There are also statues of colorful cows and fat bronze women. Will I ever understand art?  Anyway that´s why I didn´t email.  We had to get up at one in the morning to get there, cause it´s a five hour trip (yikes) However I love long bus trips because you get to see the beautiful landscape.

There are about 30 people in our teaching pool, but there are many we don´t see often. People never answer their phones here so a lot is just touch and go, hoping that they´re at home, hoping they´ll let us in. That´s tough for me at times because we know that some of these people would progress if they'd only make time for us. I am adapting to the heat fairly well.  My skin is again getting brownish after the total whiteness that was me in the MTC.

So something funny--there was this man we were talking to outside of his house, and this man spoke FAST. I mean seriously rapido, so much so that even my companion had trouble understanding him. All that I got was that he didn´t believe in the conventional God. Amidst this flow of sound, I decided to extend the baptismal covenant. That sure stopped the uninterrupted, unintelligible, mind numbing cascade of some language that sounded only vaguely like Spanish. I took advantage of lull in the storm and explained that as he prayed, he could come to an understanding of these things. He said he would, the conversation didn´t last much longer. Hopefully he´ll pray.

Something else funny. We were having a lesson with a married women in her mid thirties or forties. And the lesson was going really well--we were connecting well and the Spirit was strong. After we closed the lesson, I went to shake her hand and she came in for a kiss on the cheek! Now I realize it´s a cultural thing here, and if I wasn´t a missionary it wouldn´t be a big deal. But I am a missionary, so it was mighty awkward. I just kinda pulled back and said "Sorry!" My companion of course just laughed. -______-

So about Thanksgiving.  I actually didn´t even realize it was Thanksgiving until the very end of the day. Here in Santa Cruz, we apparently do nothing different for turkey day.  I wasn´t really bothered except for the fact that I look forward to the day when I can again spend it with my family.  Apparently it´s the same for Christmas, we just work. Which is okay :)

The lesson I learned this week is about loving my companion/pride. In fact I´m still learning it. I´m grateful for the advice given to me early on by Lans Jameson, because it´s helped me realize that I need to do better. Often times we let pride get in the way of reconciliation and amity.  But the question I ask myself is this, "Is it worth it to preserve your pride and lose unity in the work?"  Obviously no, but still I struggle. Things are improving however, and that brings me to my miracle.

The miracle is a Heavenly Father that is willing to work with me, and indeed, all of us. Heavens above, some days it just seems too hard, but each time that I kneel in sincere prayer, I am helped.  Honestly, sometimes I don´t want to be here doing this.  But those moments are far overshadowed by the realization that what I´m doing is that which my Father in Heaven wants me to do.  I am growing so much.  I am a better person for having made this choice and I would never take it back. I remember looking in the mirror when I was younger and hating what I saw. Now I´m hopeful. The Lord will make changes in our lives if we'll only let Him. If you don´t know what that means or how to do it, ask someone smart, like a bishop, or trusted friend, or me, and you´ll find help and love. It´s worth being happy in life.

 I love you all.  I hope and pray for you all. You are my strength. Go do what will make your life great.


Elder Noah M. Toney

Friday, November 27, 2015


Hello Everyone!!

Ayah is my new favorite word. I think (erroneously perhaps) That it makes me sound more Costa Rican. I use it for just about everything, exclamation, pregunteration (is that a word? I think not, but I like it) You name it, whatever.

Anyway, I would like to start out with a declaration of Love. And it is that All of you people are very very important to me and I thank The Lord in Heaven for blessing me with so many loved ones. I read your letters when I am sad, and the memories of warmth buoy me up.

By the way, the monkeys here make the most frightful noise. It is not the ooh ooh ah ah that I was taught in my childhood. I was lied to.

A miracle this week: We were walking along about seven in the evening, bone tired, having just been rejected, AGAIN, because people rarely want to listen. My companion asks me, "where are we going? Why are we walking?" And I said, "I don´t know, God is leading us" half joking, half not. I saw a light up ahead and said "aqui" (here for all you white people out there) We walked up to the house, oopehed buenas and commenced talking with a small family. I told them that I didn´t know why we were at their house, only that We were supposed to be and that we were here to help. We found out, thanks to my companion, that their mother had just died. We taught about families, and how they can be forever. It was a very spiritual lesson. We´re going back soon. Thank you Heavenly Father.

Story time: Two nights past we were in a lesson when we got an emergency call from the sisters. We rushed over, fearing the worst. (Darn my short legs, I do not walk very fast) We arrived and learned that some drunken man had kissed Hermana Brown whilst in the middle of a prayer! How strange. Why would you do that? Lesson here is two fold, one; don´t pray in the street while contacting. Only in homes. Two: be careful with drunk people, they are unpredictable. Anyways, she was very shaken up and asked that I give her a blessing (I´ve no idea why she picked me, I´m as green as green can be) Since she´s from St. George, Utah, she asked that I say it in English (phew) This was one of those times where it was entirely off the cuff and had I not been connected to the Spirit, doing what I needed to be doing, I would not have been able to give the blessing. That being said, that blessing was all Heavenly Father, pure and simple. The words that came out of my mouth were not formulated by my brain. Lesson here is to live worthy. We literally live by the Spirit here. Where to go, what to say, I´d be lost with out it. Even when I don´t understand the Spanish I can participate because I´m being helped by the Spirit.

My biggest lesson this week was about the dangers of pride and selfishness. Making the change from living my life for me, to living it for the Lord and these people here is daggumed tough. But it´s needed and worth it.

Last day at the MTC with Elder Brooks
Anyway what length this letter has. Listen, I will not be offended if you don´t have the time to read this. Just leave it unopened. S´all good :) Maybe I should put this in the title though... Anyways, I love you all. Be strong. Do good things. Send me food and socks. (Just kidding)


Elder Noah M. Toney

P.S. Sorry there aren´t many pictures of Costa Rica, I haven´t had a lot of time to take them. But there are some MTC'S!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Lighting a fire in Santa Cruz

Hello Everyone!

As many of you know, I flew to Costa Rica on Tuesday of last week.  Sorry I didn´t call anyone. Apparently, pay phones are a thing of the past. and I wasn´t able to use my phone card.

My mission president is amazing, I love him already, even though he doesn´t speak much English at all. The mission home doubles as a chapel, but it´s nice, and far away from me, about five hours. My area is called Santa Cruz and it´s super rural, But the area is huge. We are always walking, many miles, and it is super hot, that coupled with the fact that we´ll go hours without anyone talking to us makes it hard at times. But I´m bound and determined to light a fire in the area, a fire of excitement about the Gospel. My trainer is from Honduras and we speak only Spanish. I have little trouble talking, but a lot of trouble understanding. My trainer is about the only person that I understand, and him inconsistently. Very few people speak English here. I´m told that my accent is super good and that I´m doing better than most gringos, but it´s hard to not understand anything. It is getting better though, hopefully soon I´ll be able to participate more.

My companion! Elder Ferrufino. He´s amazing. He´s only been here three months, so he´s right out his own training. We get along super well. I love working with him, and look forward to the coming months. Like I said, he´s from Honduras. So he doesn´t speak a lot of english. He´s quiet and always patient with me, even though often I don´t understand him, it must be frustrating for him. The other thing is that he doesn´t like to take a break for dinner, so we usually end up going about eight or nine hours without food. I´m learning to control my hunger haha.

This is me eating the giant stick of pepperoni that Christina sent me, I ate a pound and a half by myself. Pura vida. Glorious. 
Life is good! Never easy, but good. It seems like I never have enough food haha, at least I don´t have to worry about getting fat! Funny tidbit, our toilet has no seat, so I´m always worried about falling in! At least it isn´t an out house! Mosty of the day we spend walking, and I pray for the day in which that is easy. Thanks to advice from Lans Jameson, I´ve been keeping hydrated, and that helps a lot. The weather is HOT, HOT, HOT. Always, so much so that I´ve taken to carrying around a sweat rag, which is nasty but efficient. It also rains a lot, and this is the dry season, yikes.

So the members. This is actually the biggest bummer for me here. There are like 700 inactives in my area, and maybe 70 actives. We had stake conference the other day, and literally zero members showed up. It doesn´t discourage me, rather it makes me want to work harder. So I've been praying about what to do. I don´t want you to think that the members are slackers or anything, because they aren´t. They just need to understand better the value of church. There are also some really cool members. For instance, our cook Alfredo, (yes that´s his name, he cooks lunch for us most days of the week, SO GOOD. I love the food here. It´s super healthy and satisfying, Lots of rice and beans, like I thought) He´s also the first counselor in our bishopric. He´s an amazing returned missionary. I'm sure that I´d be super impressed with what he says if only I could understand him!

I get letters once a month, so emails are faster, but I can´t really print them off (it´s pretty expensive) So I'll leave it up to you. I think I appreciate all of my loves ones now more than ever. All of my family is super important to me. I think that´s why I love teaching families. It´s because this Gospel is meant for the uplifting and bringing together of families.

A quick funny story about my sweat rag. We were at the church building for correlation, and I accidently forgot it there. The next morning we were at the ward building for a baptism (not ours) And I found it there and then used it for the rest of the day. My companion then told me that one of the hermanas had used it to clean off her wet feet and the baptismal font the night before. AFTER I had used it all day he told me this. Oh my. Well my time is up, I love you all, you´re in my prayers.


Elder Noah M. Toney

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Last Letter from the MTC

This week has been pretty amazing, We got our flight plans a while back, I leave the mtc Tuesday the tenth at 2:30 in the morning.

My district
So I have a funny experience to start off with this week. Last Monday my district got together with a fluent Spanish district, they would teach us a lesson, then we'd teach them one (I'm fairly sure that the point of this was to embarrass us white people, jk) But it really was a great learning experience. They taught, and of course their Spanish was wonderful, the lesson went well, and we were duly impressed. Then it was our turn. They gave the word of wisdom, so we (well I, my companion elder Liddiard was vehemently against the idea) chose to teach the law of chastity. We had never taught it before so I thought it was a great chance to get some in lesson experience. We started off (rocky of course) but about half way through the lesson, our "investigators" stopped the lesson. One turned to the other, and whispered behind his hand, "Hey, have we broken this law? Just for the purpose of the lesson, you know?"
To which the other replied, "Well I (his character) have, but you need to decide for yourself, it's up to you" To which I replied, "listen Elder, don't do anything you aren't comfortable with"
And thus the lesson went.
Later on I was asking them to keep the law of chastity when one of them piped up and said "Wellll, I kinda like my girlfriend a lot, and I don't want her to be angry with me" So I said (sort of accidentally, it just came out) "Well you should like God more." Needless to say, it was an interesting, an informative lesson.

Spiritual thought "Studies are a lesson, where you are the investigator, and God is the missionary" Personal study time is a huge blessing if you will prepare for it and spend your time well. I have learned so much. For instance, The other day, I wanted to research Humility. I started in second Nefí y ended up in Ether 12:27. With scriptures in most of the major books in el Libro de Mormón.
And I learned a lot. God blesses us when we search diligently and with faith.

Something I learned (yesterday actually) is how important members are in this Work. They are the anchors that keep converts from falling away. I learned a frightening statistic. In the U.S., We have a 48% retention rate for converts, that means that HALF of all converts are becoming inactive. Outside of the U.S. we have only a 25% retention rate. 25!!! More than three fourths of converts are becoming inactive.

Something needs to change.

And that something is us as members. Us as families. Are we doing absolutely everything we can to make new members feel fellow shipped? What an absolute tragedy that people are brought so close to the Light and then fall away at least in part because of us.

The other thing that needs to change are the missionaries. Me. Be the change you want to see, I believe in that. My job is not done after baptism. In fact that's just the start, the start of the strait and narrow path mentioned in 2 Nephi 31 (amazing chapter, y'all should read it) I apologize for the preachiness, but my heart aches when I think of all those who still need Christs light in their life and are so close to having it if we'd only reach out our arms.

It's crazy thinking I only have three days left in the mtc. I absolutely cannot wait for the mission field. I've learned a lot here. Like Russian. i don't know why, but I absolutely love that language. I talk with nearly every Russian I meet, And I now have a vocabulary of nearly 15 russian words. I have also learned phrases in 6 different Asiatic languages. Speciba. Onyong hasayo! (I have no clue how to spell them, only how to say them) I have also learned that English Elders can be very annoying (not all, but many) I thought my focus was shot to heck, but they display a impressive new height of time efficacy-less-ness.

Yes I made that up. Something about being here for only two weeks fails to instill proper respect for their elders (haha get the pun?) Naw I'm kidding. But it is crazy thinking that I'm here three times as long. Don't even mention the poor Russians. Speaking of which, I met fellow Hoosier Justin Taylor the other day, hopefully I'll get a picture before I leave. Well this letter is absurdly long. Also, it's been snowing lately, I am feeling the fact that I own no warm clothing here. Although it really isn't that bad. I look forward to the 70 degree weather in Costa Rica. Three more days. Brrrrrrr.


Elder Noah Toney

Don't ask me why I did this, there is no satisfactory answer.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Get over whatever is holding you back

So the candy is called our stash. And it comes from many different sources, as districts in our zone leave, they bequeath their personal food stashes to the next district. So we've had three districts leave, and pass on their food. Also whenever we get packages we pool them in together, creating an amalgam of awesomeness and glory.  As such we have more than could be expected. Also, left to right in the picture: E. Williams, E. Wahlquist, E. Brooks, Yours truly, and E. Liddiard.

This week has been amazing, although now that the time is winding down we're all pretty ready to get out in the field (at least we think are). A sad point was watching the last of the original zone leave. One thing that I absolutely love about the mtc is the personal revelation that I'm able to receive. Usually during personal study time or when an Apostle comes to speak with us (yes that happened it was AWESOME) Often we hear about the special spirit of this place, and boy is it true. I challenge anyone who hasn't read Our Heritage to read it. It gave me a testimony of the early Saints.

Sometimes I look at my name tag in wonder. Half of me doesn't believe that I'm actually here, that I actually made it. I'm not saying that I've made lots of egregious mistakes in my life, but all the same I am in wonder. I love the MTC, I love being a missionary. I'm supposed to be here. Often I hear talk about what we sacrificed to be here, but that just makes me feel strange. I honestly don't feel as though there is much that I've sacrificed, at least not in the face of what this mission is already doing for me, only one month in. My heart is being softened daily, my numerous rough edges and prideful spirit soothed. I'm not going to say it isn't tough, cause it is. And sometimes I think we're having a little too much fun (as a district we are super close) I know that we are expected to be at our best, but the class time is making us all slowly crazy. That excepted things are coming along. I love the Spanish language, even though I'm sure I sound like a two year old.

Something we did this week that was super fun, our teacher took us outside y dice, "Muy Bien misioneros, ahora vamos a practicar contactando" (Google translate if you need to) Basically we walked around the mtc looking for random people that we could share a short gospel message with. It was absolutely invigorating!!! I loved it. People might have thought that we were crazy, but hopefully it helped.

Did you get the pictures of the mustaches? I couldn't stop laughing while wearing it because the little hairs on the mustache would tickle my nose. Sorry Jacqueline I know you might want to censor this part of the email but dadgummit it was hilarious. The people need to know. That was a great night, pretty soon we're gonna be breaking up that piñata and having a fiesta. No puedo esperar!

A lesson I've learned (or am trying to learn) is to simplify doctrine. We had our last lesson with our Investigator Esperanza. We were teaching the plan of salvation and butchering it, I mean it was the fire hose analogy (where a person comes looking for a sip of water so instead you give them a blast from a fire hose, they may get a little water, but mostly it just hurts) We were talking about baptism and the Spirit and the Savior and His Atonement and it was just too much! So about half-way through the lesson I stopped, noticing she was rather confused, and spent the rest of the lesson addressing her concerns and questions. She was worried that only after we were perfect would we be happy, so we helped explain that there is much happiness in the journey. If you are not happy right now (this applies to everyone) Then you are doing something wrong, Heavenly Father's plan is one of happiness, so get over whatever it is that is holding you back, and be happy! Do the things, the easy things, like exercising, taking a walk and enjoying this beautiful world, read the scriptures, PRAY, that make you happy. None of these things take much time, bu they will make a WORLD of difference, this I promise you. Anyway, once she understood that happiness is a now sort of thing, things got much better. Although we are awful teachers, the Spirit is not. And let me tell you, the spirit was incredibly strong, through our blunders and mishaps alike. As we were getting ready to leave, she shared with us that she has taken many lessons from missionaries, but never before has she had an actual desire to learn more and act. She was taking notes in the lesson, she's been keeping all of her commitments (well mostly), and there was a definite change in her countenance. When I walked into that lesson, I felt a difference in her, she was smiling, and no se pero she just looked different. God does miracles, this I testify, cause I've seen them myself. Me being here is a miracle. Go look at your life and see if you can't see some serious miracles going on. I betcha you will, por supuesto.

Right, the Apostle. Neil L. Anderson came and spoke to us, and well, let's just say there's a reason why they're Apostles. I'm not going to give a full transcript but he spoke mainly about four points, Sacrifice, Opposition, The Adversary, and Deliverance. Since I'm in the choir we got to sing for him, and we sang "More Holiness Give Me" which was AMAZING. The composer of the song Phillip Bliss has an amazing story which I encourage all of you to look up. (Random moment of pride, I'm told that this devotional was broadcasted to all of the MTC's, and also that the camera totally panned in on my section (I promise I didn't look at the big screen in front of us, that would have been taking the focus off of the spirit) So all of the mtc's in the world got to see me face. Those poor missionaries, but some things can't be unseen) Elder Anderson is surprisingly funny, he made a comment about how in America, we give participation trophies to all the kids, and that missions are not the same, there are no participation trophies, so get your hinies out there and work hard, because The Lord returns a thousand fold that which you give Him.

Time for lunch, errr dinner. Time has lost its meaning here.


Elder Noah Toney

Sunday, October 25, 2015

I feel joy when they do

Hello Everyone!

I don't have much time to write today.  However, there was one experience this week that really warrants writing about. One of the people we teach is an actual investigator, which is pretty rare here because they don't want us missionaries ruining them. Anyways I'm not going to give her full name, but for the meantime I'll call her Esperanza.  She's had a hard life and she doesn't believe in God, or Jesus Christ, but she's an amazing person.

During our second lesson I felt prompted to share some experiences from my life. She began to cry. I so wanted her to feel the love of her Father in Heaven, because I felt it so strongly. She then shared with us a story from her heart, unfortunately there wasn't much that I could understand, but I got the gist. I then testified to her of the love her Savior had for her. Out of the blue she asked how to pray (we had taught her the time before).  I again taught her and then asked her to pray. She acquiesced and tentatively started to pray. It was one of the most sincere prayers I have ever heard, in the middle of the prayer she began to quietly sob. And never have I prayed so hard that she would receive a witness that God is real and that He loved her. Immediately after the prayer she looked up at us and said, "I know that God is real and I want to learn more of Him." She then asked about the Book of Mormon.  We told her a little about it and asked to read in 2 Nephi chapter 4, one of my very favorites. We then left.

Yesterday we again had the opportunity to learn with her. It had been a very hard day for her, and she was almost in tears by the time we walked in. When I asked, she told me more about her life, and how hard it is to be non-Mormon in a predominately Mormon school (she goes to BYU).  I cannot remember everything said, but I know that God was able to use my experiences to help this woman, and for that I am eternally grateful. We then committed her to baptism (of which she said in time, as she learns more) Although initially she said no because she thought we meant the next day.

It's challenging for me to be a missionary sometimes, because it is impossible for me to not grow to love the people. When I love them, I feel what they feel, and the same goes for my companions. When they are going through hard times, it feels like I'm going through it with them. I hurt when they hurt, I want to cry when they cry. But I also feel joy when they do. Although it is hard, I know it is a good thing because it increases my desire to be a better teacher and missionary ten fold.

We also had Chad Lewis come and speak to us. For those of you who don't know, he is a former American football tight end in the NFL for the Philadelphia Eagles and St. Louis Rams.  He grew up in little ole Orem, Utah and played high school football.  He then served a mission in Taiwan before attending BYU.  He was pretty hilarious and seemed like a great guy, except that he sure showed a lot of pictures of himself. At one point he told us that the way to members hearts was through their children, and that we should just scoop them up and hold them. Except for the fact that it is waaaaaaay against mission policy to ever hold children. My oh my did the mission president look uncomfortable.

Also, I am in the choir, and it is amazing, mostly because of the choir director.  Thank you, Jacqueline Anderson, for recommending I do that!

I'm sorry this week's letter is so short. I really need to write down experiences when they happen because I tend to forget.

Elder Noah M. Toney

Friday, October 16, 2015

A miracle of a changed heart

Howdy Howdy Everyone!!!

Indiana missionaries! Elder Brown, Elder Toney, Elder Lefler
Yes I am stayin alive, and although the constant class time gets to me, I'm learning a lot as well. Oh and btw, I don't know if I mentioned it, but BYU Vocal Point came and sang for us as our Sunday Devotional. It was AMAZING. One of the members is a teacher here. The low point of this week was getting sick, but I started eating healthy, and going to bed early, so now I fell better. One of the high points was sitting down and talking with Elder Lefler (still weird to call him that),
We talked about how the Missionary Training Center changes people, and indeed it has. It's really cool to see how he's grown, hopefully I'll grow just as much. The toughest thing is remembering everything that's happened! A couple nights ago my teacher asked our district what we would give up to be happy on our mission. I pondered the question and came to a realization. To do the Fathers will and be happy, I would give up anything, my desires, my expectations, my pride, my fears, and my faults. That's what I want. It was an important turning point for me, because sometimes i get tired of missionary life, it's pretty tough, but every second is worth it, of that I testify. A miracle of a changed heart.

By the way, did you know that the temple has a cafeteria? Doesn't it say somewhere in the bible that selling things in the temple is bad juju? Last time it happened Jesus came in and cleaned the place out. The whole time I was eating I was worried about getting struck by lightening. Alas, it didn't happen, I'm still here, apparently it's okay. The Spanish is still coming along. I have now memorized three full scriptures and the first vision. And the missionary purpose (Invitar a las personas a venir a Cristo, al ayudarlas a que reciban el Evangelio Restaurado mediante la fe en Jesucristo y Su Expiación, el arrepentimiento, el bautismo, la recepción del don del Espíritu Santo y el perseverar hasta el fin.) I think that's right at least.

Elder Liddiard takes some weird pictures!
So here's a funny story, Wednesday I was feeling pretty awful so during gym time I took a nap. When it was time for class my companion elder Liddiard tried to wake me up. Still feeling pretty awful, I resisted. Knowing that we were on a time crunch, the elder decided to take drastic efforts. He jumped into my bed (scary, right?) I was so freaked out I rolled out of bed and fell face first on to the floor. Personally I think that it was totally unnecessary, but we did get to class on time. This same Elder is keeping a book of all of the crazy and funny quotes we have all said, I will not be including it because i most likely shouldn't, but find me after the mission and I'll share, it's hilarious.

Teaching in Spanish can be super hard at times, mostly because some of the investigators are really hard to understand. Although it can feel like I'll never be a good teacher, I know that I'm progressing, however slowly. It's easy to get frustrated, but I know that I'm not gonna be great right away (if ever) I just gotta give it time. with the Lords help, anything can happen, right? I'll bet He can even help someone as hopeless as me (I hope)

A bit of news that I don't think I shared. They switched up the companionships in our district. Elder Wahlquist got put with Elder Brooks, and Elder Williams is now with Elder Liddiard and I.
My district
Elder Brooks and I.
They have now put the three people who talk most in the trio, and the two who talk the least together. It's great for making our lessons long, now we just have to figure out how to make them shorter. The biggest struggle is giving a lesson that is 100% applicable to the investigator, because if it isn't important to them, why the heck should they listen? I love my two teachers, Hermana Bond y Hermano Roberts, los dos son asombroso. Lo siento! Alguna vez hablo en español sin tratando. But really, sometimes I'll be speaking in English and a Spanish word will come out. I think that's a good thing though. Alright it's time for me to go; for all those sending me dear elders and letters throughout the week, thank you! it means a lot to me.


Elder Toney

My Zone

Friday, October 9, 2015

The Savior is present in everything

Hello Everyone!  

My email is short today because most of my time was swallowed up reading all your emails.  I love that you are thinking of me, but I would please ask you to log on to and write me there instead of emailing me.  I think you will need to know that I am going to Costa Rica West Mission and that I leave the MTC on NOV 10.  In case you need it, my code (the same as my first address line for the MTC is NOV10 CRA-SJOW.  I'll get the letter the day you send it and every missionary loves getting letters.  Letters are easier for me because they don't take up my email time and I can read what you have written and enjoy it throughout the week.  And for some reason my emails won't print so this will be short, sorry. So little time!

I loved general conference. I have never received personal inspiration like this before. It felt like every single talk was powerful, and I learned so much. I love this church, and our leaders. I pray for President Monson, my heart twisted in my chest when I saw his struggle up on the podium. Brother Fosters talk in particular struck me like a hammer. That is the sort of father that I want to be, I feel like Heavenly Father is saying, "Here you go Noah, you're worried about fatherhood, here's some guidance on how to do it."

Everyday is an affirmation of my choice to be here. I love and hate it. The Spirit is always super strong, but I've never been a fan of classrooms. I'm made for working and moving, and I can't wait for Costa Rica. Although I'm ready to go, I know without a shadow of a doubt that I need this time to prepare. My trio has now taught six lessons, six!!! And all of them in 100% Spanish. Sometimes the lessons go well, like when our investigator I prayed with us, it took some cajoling (sí se puede, I, sí se puede!!) But my goodness it was the sweetest prayer that I have ever heard. I don't remember much of it, indeed I didn't understand all of it, but the Spirit was strong and I was happy. Sometimes things
don't go well, like when our other investigator R got up in the middle of the lesson and stared out the window. Or when he starts texting in the middle of the lesson. Or when he makes a paper airplane out of the scripture reminder card I gave him, and he's twenty three! -____- Suffice to say I was a tad bothered.

All fun aside, the Savior is present in everything I do here. (except for our P-day antics, we made up a game called MTCB or Mtc Ball, it's where you set a ladder on two chairs and play volleyball in your room. The rules are ridiculous,but it's fun) Without the Savior, I would be one lost and sad boy indeed. The only reason that our lessons go well is because of fervent prayer. Never before have I offered so many real prayers. I give my heart and worries to Heavenly Father, and He helps me with out fail. More than any other time in my life, I realize my need for Him.

I love my zone, and my district. We have become ridiculously close in such a close time. My one worry is my companion Elder W. Last week he totally shut down in class. I gave him a blessing, and it seemed to really help. But I'm not sure things are getting better. He refuses to communicate or participate in preparing lessons. I love him and want to help him but I'm not entirely sure what to do. When I ask he just grunts at me. It would be an understatement to say that I have had some serious prayer time about it. I'd appreciate it if you'd keep him in your prayers.

We're always having a good time, and although it can be tough I know that I'm in the right place. It's funny how the mtc changes people. For instance, in my district I'm known for how well I make my bed, it's called the Elder Toney Standard, and multiple elders have asked me to teach them how (thanks Jacqueline!) I've also gotten a new nickname, chispa, it means spark in spanish. One of the sisters gave it to me cause apparently I'm "sassy". I've no idea what she's talking about. Do you? Don't answer that. Well my time is about up. Vaya con Dios.


Elder Toney

Friday, October 2, 2015

First email from the MTC

Hello Everyone,

First P day! Yes I got the picture and my companions and I laughed at it, by this point we know that feeling of being punched in the face by the spirit. Yes, I said companions. I am in a trio with Elder Wahlquist and Elder Liddiard. I am also the senior companion for the next two weeks. Elder Wahlquist is from King George, Virginia, he's a smart and talented kid, but very quiet when it comes to talking in front of people. My work with him will be getting him to open up and just speak. Elder Liddiard is a lot of fun, we're constantly laughing and enjoying the mtc. He has a little more trouble with the language, but I know that as he studies he'll learn it just as well as any of us. He has absolutely no problem speaking out, and that will be huge blessing for him. We all get along well and I'm excited for the next six weeks. There are seven missionaries in my district, and I'm growing to love all of them, there is one sister companionship, one normal elder companionship, and then the trio that I'm in. I'm not on the fast track for Spanish, but I think that's a good thing. The classes are long and arduous, but I understand about 90% of what comes my way. I'm able to respond fairly well, although it takes me awhile to think it out. I am absolutely astounded by the gift of tongues, every single day (all two of them :P) I know that I should not be doing this well, even after four years of Spanish, it's never been this possible. We are already praying, testifying, and committing to action in Spanish, we really don't spend much time on grammar, like all the things in this amazing church, focus on the Lord, and all good things will follow, I truly believe that. We teach our first investigator this Monday, and I look forward to crashing and burning like most do. We are still learning the ropes of the mtc, and there are times when I feel as though we've been forgotten (like when we're in a classroom with no teacher and no idea what to do so we bear our testimonies painfully in Spanish to fill time) But I've learned to just ask questions instead of wandering around confused.

I've learned some big lessons so far, but perhaps the most important is about investigators. Picture a classroom with about thirty missionaries in it. Enter a investigator (slash mtc employee, shh don't tell), We learn a little about them, some stand in missionaries ask some questions, and then they leave and the floor is opened to all the pre-greenie missionaries to find out about this investigator and how to help them. With so many missionaries it's a bit chaotic, but I think that I understand what the teachers were getting at. Our focus is on the investigator and what they need. Our job is to find they're needs, and help them with that, not to teach them every principle and precept of the gospel. I'm not sure if that came out right, but it makes TOTAL sense in my head. Throughout these discussions I feel like I have so much to say to these investigators, and that I'll be able to communicate well. Even if I don't get the chance to talk much, I'm okay. What worries me is whether I'll be able to do the same in Spanish. I know that with the Lord's help I can accomplish anything, but I also know that I'm going to need a LOT of that help.

I am rooming with the other four elders in my district, it's a bit crowded, but a lot of fun. I have had no trouble sleeping, or getting up, another testament to the power of Our Savior. (wink wink nudge nudge to Bishop). The food is great, the workout room acceptable. I went to the temple today and did sealings, I didn't know that we could do that but it was a great experience. I can't wait for the day I kneel across from the woman I'll spend the rest of my life with. It is a special room. The temple is literally 10 minutes walk away (the temples just keep getting CLOSER) which is pretty nifty, especially since it's so beautiful out. I'm loving the weather, although it is turning pretty chilly, I can't wait for Costa Rican weather. That's all I can think of for now, Love to all of you!!! I met a Mormon on the flight over, he sat next to me, but I'm out of time, Adios!

P.S. Oren, email me, I need your address so that i can send you letters.

P.P.S. Jacqueline, the packing was perfect, I haven't needed the books yet. My camera hasn't come in yet either, so no pictures yet.

P.P.P.S. Love you Jamesons!