Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Teaching with Pres

Hello Everyone,

I had a fun experience yesterday: One of my missionaries has kidney stones. Had, actually, because Saturday they operated on him and luckily he didn't have to go home. It was a relatively small surgery and actually they didn't cut him open at all....suffice it to say that I am NEVER going another day without drinking tons of water. *shudder* Anyways, I was on splits with him so that his companion, who is a new missionary, didn't have to be cooped up in the house. We went to a ward baptism because we had to be in the chapel anyway for the Christmas devotional. And president shows up!  Sometimes I miss being far away from the mission home, because when you live more than five hours away from headquarters, no one ever shows up unannounced.  Actually, no one shows up ever!  After the service, while the participants were getting dried and dressed, my mission president leans over and says, "You should be taking advantage of this time to teach the Plan of Salvation (which basically teaches Gods recipe for our happiness).  You got lucky because Elder Brassanini (SeƱor kidney stones) can´t do very much."  For those that don't know my president, he seems very stern.  When he says things, it kind of makes you wet yourself a little, especially since I have rarely talked with president.  Since I´m a "leader" and should know these things, I pipe up and say, "Hey president, you wanna teach with me then?" In the moment before I said that I thought, "snapple, what do I do?" and "by golly have I got an idea" So we taught, and it was a lot of fun. I think it went over well with him, but I couldn't tell if he was angry or pleased based on his face. It was hard to tell.

Out of time. I love you all.


Elder Noah M. Toney
We went to the temple to see one of my converts and an old friend

Sunday, December 4, 2016

We loved them

Howdy Howdy,

I am not entirely sure that I have informed all of you where I currently am working.  My home is now in Flores de Heredia. It would be a grave understatement to say that it has been an eventful week. My new companion and I are doing really well. We get along super well, it seems like we are always laughing, I swear, I have never laughed so hard so often in all of my mission. He has been in Costa Rica awhile, so he has a lot of experience.  That means I get to learn a lot. We are both new at what we are doing, but our plan is to be as close and united as possible so that we can unite our zone. The area is really nice--the members make us dinner every single day it is so strange.   I have not eaten so much in all of my mission. The ward is so organized and the members all help us out!! It´s a lot different here than in my other areas, so I´m changing my strategy a bit.

I think it can be said that at this point in the journey we can recognize that Elder Toney has the tendency of writing one good email for every four or five negligent emails. Sorry!

These past two weeks have been the happiest of my mission. I feel...good. Starting out here in Flowers,  (I just love the literality of Spanish, and yes I do believe I just invented a word) I realized that I was feeling rather strange, and I couldn't quite identify the source. In analyzing the why, I found out something huge and rather personal. I felt a lack of self resentment. I believe that I am finally able to forgive myself for my mistakes. I know that it is probably hard to understand for someone who isn't me, but I have felt an intense resentment towards myself for so many years, based on my weaknesses. The absence of that poison brings me so much peace, and for the first time in years, years, and years, I feel hope. Real hope. I honestly believe now that maybe I´ll be okay, that I´ll turn out all right, that I am not forever destined to be a bad person who hurts those around him. I forgive myself for being human, and I love my Savior for helping me overcome that.

Being a Zone Leader is exhilarating, and absolutely exhausting. When we came here as Zone Leaders, things were pretty bad. The zone was the lowest in the mission. The missionaries weren't united. But this past week we all pulled together and worked like our lives depended on it. This past week was the week of miracles (previously known as the week of sacrifice) My companion and I worked like crazy to plan things, because the past zone leaders hadn't planned anything. We set some really high goals, with the prize being a trip to the temple, (which is unheard of here). Although we didn't meet the numerical goal, the real prize was seeing the light in the missionaries' eyes. We served them, we got to know them, we loved them. One thing we did every morning before we left to work was to gather in one of the chapels. My companion and I taught them, encouraged them, then we played games together for a short while. Then during lunch, we all ate together. This is something we can only do during this week. And to be truthful, our little zone was leading the mission in various categories. Our goal is to have this zone be a family, as it says in Matthew 12:48-50.

As a zone leader, we convey A LOT of information. That is basically our role, moving it all along. We talk with the district leaders and help them grow. We talk a lot more with our mission president.  Funny story--last Saturday he showed up at our apartment! THANK GOODNESS he didn't know where we live, because he had to call first to get directions. We cleaned so dang fast!

Things are going well, the zone is getting better. My companion is awesome. I love you all!


Elder Noah M. Toney

We hade a half pund of meat and a bunch of fries IT HURT SO BAD BUT WE DID IT.

The mother of one of the missionaries in my past district


Sunday, November 20, 2016


Hello Everyone!

I know I should be better about writing weekly emails, it just stresses me out for no good reason haha. I think I love and miss you all more than I'm willing to admit!

So big news,I've had changes! This is still a rather new experience for me seeing as in more than a year of being a missionary, it has only happened to me once... I tend to stick around for awhile in my areas. Which is pretty cool because I make some really good friends. The other big news (or maybe not so big) is that I am now a zone leader. That means that I am responsible for about twice the amount of people as a district leader. It also means I have to go to a lot of meetings, which I am incidentally not as excited about :P I am not very good at sitting in one place for extended periods of time, I am made to move and work. But I also get the chance to work more with the missionaries and learn a lot more. So all in all I´m pretty darn excited. A tad nervous as well, in all honesty. My new companion is from Mexico, Elder Contreras. He is almost finishing his mission, but the funny part is, he hasn't been a zone leader before either! So neither of us knows what we are doing. This should be fun!  Let´s see how long it takes me to run us into the ground...just kidding.  But I´m going to need a lot of help, and I am certainly going to learn more than I can hope for, so here goes nothing. I figure that I´ll have to face this new challenge squarely, with a good sense of humor, a lot of praying, and a lot of listening and watching so that I learn. I also appreciate advice from all sides.

Hermano Adrian is progressing rapidly, he and his wife Marlen both gave talks my last Sunday, and it brings such joy to my heart to hear a man I helped be baptized testify of the true-ness of the church. I reiterate, all that it takes to gain a testimony of this church is an honest effort. it really isn't that complicated, but it does take honesty.

I love you all!


Elder Noah M. Toney

Noah's district before he was made Zone Leader

Hermano Oliver
Hermana Jessica

The family Medina

Sunday, November 6, 2016

The glory of the future

Howdy howdy,

It has been awhile since I have last written and, well, it has been crazy. I will try to explain a little bit today.

Ok, so first off, I am still training, although we only have three weeks left together probably, which is sad, cause I really do love Elder Lake. We get along amazingly and I believe we are both enjoying our time together. It´s strange, because although he is only a year younger than I, I feel like he looks at me as though I was waaaay older, which is interesting, because I most definitely did not feel that way about my trainer. Sadly we did not get along very well. It´s interesting how different my training was from his. I started out in a really hot, dusty, poor town where no one ever spoke English, EVER. My first three months were really solitary because no one really talked to me much. Where as Elder Lake is starting out in nice, developed, mild mannered weather village, where everyone seems to speak English. I, personally, think it is because I had a lot more to learn and had a lot more pride.  He is a lot farther along in those terms. I continue as district leader, and it is something that I enjoy more and more. My district has been having success, but more importantly, I can see the personal progression of each missionary in my district, and how they are changing. The weather doesn't really change here, it just rains every day. I have lost so many umbrellas here it is ridiculous. Don´t worry the number is less than ten. I feel like where I am succeeding is in my personal relationship With the Lord, and where I am failing is with my discipline.

Lately I have been struggling with a lot of things, and in many ways this has been the hardest time I have passed in my mission. I think I wrote awhile back that I had asked the Lord for whatever trial He has in store for me to help me be who He wants me to be. And things have steadily gotten harder and harder. So hard that every single day was a challenge and that although no one else was privy to the fact (I hide fairly well what I don´t want others to know) I have been feeling like I have been steadily drowning. That I am a failure, that no matter what I do I can´t seem to be a good person. Although things have been rather tough, many a good lesson has been learned. I learned that I will never ever give up, no matter the cost or how hard I will keep pressing forward until I win the prize. I know there are better things so it doesn't matter how hard I'm hit or how often I am knocked down because I will get up, dust myself off, and push forward. I cannot and will not be moved in my testimony of what I know is right and when life gets downright nasty, I know that the dawn is always darkest before the night.  A new day will shine forth so bright as to make me shield my eyes because of the glory of a future that I had not even imagined possible.

But of all of the wonderful and important things I learned, there is one which I treasure most. In all of the winds and buffetings, I have learned the source of my strength. I have developed a close and personal relationship with my older Brother and Redeemer. I know the voice of my Shepherd. I know that miracles have not ceased and that everyone has the possibility and responsibility of working miracles, the very first being ourselves in our lives. I know that prayers are answered and that when we reach the point in our lives when we want answers more than we want anything else, we will find success. I know that today in the world, miracles happen and that they have not ceased, We can receive answers like those of old. We can be the best of ourselves, regardless of who our neighbors are, or who our family is. Keep on, push through the dreary night, find the new morning. Do whatever it takes to win your freedom. I love you so much, thank you for the constant support of letters emails and prayers.


Elder Noah M. Toney

Service project. I cut down a tree with a machete!

Boredom midst setting up chairs for Sunday morning

Hermano Adrian! He received the priesthood and is in his new white shirt and tie.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

One year

Howdy! I`m officially one year old now! The 30th of September passed pretty normally--I had a baptismal interview for a companionship in my district and they bought me cake and ice cream. That was nice :)

A good friend asked me the following question:  "Noah, you've been out for a year now--how do you feel this year of service has changed you?"

As I started pondering this question, I sat down and started penning my list.

Ways in which I have changed: 
*I can walk a lot longer
*I can walk really fast now
*I can do without food for a lot longer an it doesn't bother me
*I can keep going even when I'm exhausted
*I can fast without problems
*I'm a lot leaner (I'm really skinny, don't know how)
*I drink a lot more water
*I'm cleaner and more organized
*I can communicate better
*I can listen better (one of the biggies, listening is a superpower in my mind)
*I can think a lot better
*I pray a lot longer and a lot more
*I know my Savior more than I ever have and have a personal relationship with Him that generally entails my messing up an Him helping me out!
*I absolutely LOVE the scriptures and I learn so much every time I open them with sincere desire.
*I have been taught personally by the Holy Ghost and can recognize His influence in my life, daily.
*I have matured
*I am not so bothered by the small stuff
*I'm stronger
*I love more freely and often
*I forgive more
*I accept my mistakes and try to change more often
*I don't get as defensive as I used to
*I'm a lot more calm than I used to be
*I've learned how to take control of a situation, and how to let go of it.
*I'm better with people and have made life long friends
*I CAN SPEAK SPANISH, if not that well
*I keep my apartment clean and my room organized (sometimes) with my bed made
*I can wash my clothes by hand
*I can speak for a really really long time given very short notice
*I can feel the Spirit and receive recognizable answers to my prayer often
*Sometimes, by listening well and thinking hard, I can understand peole really well, to the point that it almost seems that I see in their heads.
*I can analyze a lot better and really get the meaning out of something
*I know that when I want something, I will give my all to obtain t;
*I will never give up on this Gospel even though it feels that I am so behind and that I will never make it because I know that He never gives up on me, and I'm almighty stubborn.

The list I just gave helped me realize some things. When I came on the mission it was with the hope that I could change and be something more. Reading and thinking on that list, I realize that I have changed quite a bit, which is, interestingly enough, an answer to a very serious and troubling question that I have been brooding over. A couple weeks ago I asked the Lord to give me whatever He knows that I need to help me change more and become more like how He wants me to be. At the time I was feeling pretty good about things, but over the past few days, that has changed. I feel like I have been taken back to square one, and have been depressed at the thought that after all this time, I am no better than when I started, that I haven't changed.  I tend to be very hard on myself. I find it exquisitely painful to accept my mistakes and faults, and truthfully, I tend to not accept them, and instead resent myself for my weaknesses. Although that I know I am human, I get so very frustrated with my seemingly slow progress and wonder when I`ll finally be a good person. It doesn't seem to matter what I do, it never seems enough.

This all happened in about a month, I went from feeling great about myself to being sick of myself. But then I remember that I asked for it, and in truth, I know that there is a reason and that the Lord is teaching me.  I never expected the refiners fire to be a comfortable or easy process, but, know it or don`t, it still hurts. I believe that what matters is how we respond to it. I find myself on my knees much more often, I wake up in the morning wondering how I got into bed and when I fell asleep because the last thing I remember doing was begging for help on my knees.   I finally have a desire to offer up a Nephi-like prayer where I know that the Lord will answer me if I'm annoying enough (just kidding).  The point is, the progress is there, just look for it; you aren't as awful as you might think. And just keep moving forward. As I told my greenie, the best thing that you can learn is to have a personal relationship with God, so go pray.


Elder Noah M. Toney
My District!

A past member of la familia poas!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

The miracles are unceasing

Well, Hey There!

Time truly passes quickly when you are enjoying it!  Definitely an eternal truth.

Random thought: Writing is a very tiring, although cathartic process. Especially when you never leave yourself enough time to say what you want.  Please don't mind the grammatical errors--I have to write like a bat out of... well you know. Other random thought--I do not understand that phrase.

We had a smashing week!  Yet another random thought--I learned a while ago that one adds the "n" to "an" when it goes in front of a word that starts with a vowel!  Ever since then, every time I write "an" I stop and marvel at that little piece of grammatical geniousry (is geniousry a word?).   I learned that rule about eight months ago and I´m still thinking about it!  We are preparing for three baptisms this week:  Yader and Susana (who are also getting married) and Adrian.  We were going to do it last Saturday, but there was a paperwork mix up and a lawyer mix up.  I'm not gonna lie--dealing with lawyers is not my favorite part of the mission because they are just hard to get a straight answer out of and they never answer their phone.  Now, if you are a lawyer and you are reading this, I am 100% sure that this doesn't apply to you!  :-)  But it looks like things will turn out smoothly and we should have a good turnout because we are offering food (which always attracts people) and because they are a handsome couple.

There are days (and weeks, and months) where it seems as though the miracles are unceasing. There is nothing more beautiful than to hear an investigator declare in an unwavering voice, looking you steadily in the eye, "I know that the church is true, and I know that I am not mistaken." It is a humbling experience to be a part of this process.

I have also learned a lot about myself, including this realization:  Happiness is a life style and a choice.

I feel that we as humans are a fist-shaking type of breed. Something bad happens and what do we do? We start shaking our fist:  at our parents or our family, at friends, at work, at plain bad luck, and even at God. The interesting part is that as a rule, when we are shaking our fist at some entity that has "caused all our problems" we tend to neglect to remember to think of our own involvement.  I know that is obvious, but let´s take it further. For example, a child is born into tough circumstances and grows up scared and beat upon, missing out on lots of great opportunities because of his situation and he can't move forward because he feels stuck and hurt.  I believe that, individually, we had a much bigger part in deciding the trials we would have here in the life before this one. Our trials were and are tailored to who we are, built to help bring out the best in us depending on the faith and desire to grow that we had in the life before.

Miss-comprehension of this truth causes us to shake our fists at God and ask, "What did I do to deserve this, it just isn't fair!"  Or on a more subtle note, we find ourselves quietly discontented with our circumstances in life, and while we do not shake the fist or yell, we do wonder why and we never learn the lesson. We live our lives beneath our potential. We ourselves are the only real barrier to happiness, success, and more fulfilling relationships or lives. I have realized that I make myself unhappy because I have not learned how to be happy.

Anyway, enough meta cognitive stuff. If I had more time, I could make that make more sense!  As it is, if it makes no sense, just ignore it and know that I love you


Elder Noah M. Toney

Do you see something strange?

Sisters in my district

Hermano Adrian. He's getting baptied!

My son won at Catan!!

My son teaching the people

Teaching the people

A really big dude!

Photo bomb

We found a pet dog!

He got scared and ran off about 6 hours later. :(