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