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!