Sunday, February 28, 2016

Rewards for sacrifice

Howdy howdy;

Sorry I´m so late this week, we got together as a district today for p day, that doesn't happen too much because we´re pretty spread out. We ate pancakes, played ping pong, ate pizza,  watched The Work and the Glory, and just chilled. It was one of the sisters birthday so an elder cracked an egg over her head, but he did it waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too hard, and he made her cry. He also sprayed egg guts all over the room. The picture I sent is of the sister washing her hair of egg yoke. Hehe. I ain't tellin nobody when my birthday is.

This past week we had another week of sacrifice, and all in all we found almost 300 new investigators, in four different cities over four days. It was amazing, but daggumed TIRING.

The first day I was in the city of Liberia (the specific area we were in was downright DUSTY, all the streets, houses, and trees were white with it. I´m sure that if I wasn't already white I´d have looked ridiculous) with a different companion (also named Elder Lopez) who happens to appear a tad

Chinese. We found these two young kids, one of 16 years, and one of 12. And when they asked where we were from I said that Elder Lopez was from China. The kid got these real big eyes and said ¨REALLY??" Can you speak Chinese?! To my surprise, Elder Lopez busts out with some foreign sounding jibberish, much to the kids astonishment (mine as well) He was quite speechless, and well, I didn't have the heart to tell him that Elder Lopez was actually Mexican. I later found out that it was not jibberish, it was Japanese that he had learned from watching anime. People these days.

We have new zone leaders who are amazing.
One is a previous assistant to the president, the other was a secretary, and with them, we're making a lot of changes as a zone. We've come together as brothers and sisters, and it´s a sight to see. Where before we were a bunch of dispersed guys and girls, we are now a tightly woven bunch of missionaries who love one another and are working together to accomplish good. It gives me a lot of hope, I'm excited and thankful for my zone.

Another interesting occurrence is that we had an hour long discussion with a Jehovah's Witness from Kentucky. He was very amiable, and interested in what we were saying. It was a nice change, as a general rule, Jehovah's Witnesses do not like us. He had lots of questions, like, ¨if after your mission you and your companion are on different sides of a war, would you kill each other?" An interesting question, I told him that I wasn't really sure, but that if he´d read the Book of Mormon, and pray about it, then I was 100% sure that he´d find an affirmative answer. He wasn't too awful keen on that, but he was nothing if not respectful, and that I appreciate.

I LOVE freaky bridges!
We also had an Elder get bit by a dog. With that happy thought, I´ll sign off


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Pinterest and object lessons

Good morning;

So it really isn't very humid here in Guanacaste, we are currently in a drought more or less. You could say that I´m accustomed, I actually use a cover at night, and I really don´t sweat very much. I find the heat bearable, although it seems to be killing my companion, he´s from a very cold part of Guatemala. And yes I got the socks from Mom! Thank goodness.

The members here are wonderful. I´m good friends with practically everyone, and everyone gives us food now, pura vida. Alfredo is the member we are most close to, he is also our cook and first counselor in the bishopric. We see him pretty much everyday, he comes to our p days (he is a wicked ping pong player) His small family consists of his wife, his two small children, and him. The picture with the cake is his family. He is a returned missionary who served in Honduras. Seeing as he is the only member who is active and really strong in the gospel, we tend to use him a lot in lessons. Because he was a missionary, he knows all the material, so sometimes the challenge is more getting him to dial it down, cause he is a wonderful talker. We also have a family from Utah living here for two years while their vacation home is being built, called the Spaldings. Seeing as our bishop recently moved to Utah, he was called as the new bishop, so I guess he´s staying for five years now. But I´m really excited, he knows how to get things done and I have confidence that things are going to start moving forward more rapidly as, hopefully, we´ll have more member participation.

About two weeks back while attempting (in vain) to get a family to receive us, we met a man who was a member of the Church.  We knew he was a member because when he saw our white shirts.  He said, ¨Hey are you from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints?" I thought to myself, he´s gotta be a member cause no one knows the full name of this church. Turns out he was just moving in to the area.  He gave us his number and left. Yesterday we went over to his house and gave a lesson to him and his wife. We gave a lesson about the doctrine of Christ, but we did it creatively. We give them a challenge to see if they could make a cross out of a sheet of paper, having folded it four times, and making one straight cut. After they fail, as they inevitably do (after all, who knows how to make a cross like that? Only people that spend too much time on Pinterest) we use the process to teach them the five steps, faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the holy ghost, and enduring to the end. It´s a lot of fun and it illustrates the point really well. Seeing as I just described what we usually show, I'm sure there are a lot of confused people out there, Just trust me, it´s super cool :D

I totally forgot it was valentines day (how sad is that?) So there is no news on that end. I hope it went well for the rest of you!  :)

Love you all,

Unrequitedly (just kidding I´m a missionary)

Elder Noah M. Toney

Saturday, February 13, 2016


February 8, 2016

Hello Everyone :)

This week has been refreshing. Things with my new companion are good. Although things are still tough, we have a lot more fun together and we teach well together.

My trip to see and listen to an Apostle last week was inspiring.  The mission home is five hours away, but we took a personal bus so it was more like four hours at insanely high speeds. Listening to an Apostle was an interesting experience.  It was different that what I expected. What cannot be doubted is the power of these men, but the feel of this power is different. It isn´t like the power of the president of the US who can do lots of stuff and has lots of money. It´s more like the power of unshakable knowledge that moves mountains and does naught but good. The thing is, it was mighty simple. But in it´s simplicity there was elegance. The truth that when you really know something, you can teach it in such a way that it is easily understood. You leave inspired. Although he's an apostle, my overwhelming impression was that he is just a man, with weaknesses and needs just like the rest of us. The difference is that he has allowed a greater degree of Divine Intervention in his life, or grace. And the result is that he has benefited immensely.  He is happy, productive, inspiring, secure, believable, Changed. And the same process is proffered to us.

Our West mission was combined with the East mission for the conference.  First off, it was interesting to see that our West mission was a whole bunch more disciplined, a trait that is highly valued by president Laboriel.  Our shoes were shined, suit jackets on, color coordinated.  But we gathered and equaled 300 something missionaries--that will change the world. My Spanish is pretty good compared to all the other gringos; I always hear that I´m learning really fast and have a good accent (although with a bit of Russian, I have no idea how one has a Russian Spanish accent but I have accomplished it) That being said I still have a long road ahead till fluency. But I´ll get there.

Someone asked about the Zika Virus that is all over the news.  Eh, them mosquitoes don´t worry me. The good thing about being in a drought is that the bugs don´t prosper so much. Except ants. There are more than enough ants.

Our new Zone Leaders are amazing.  One of them is the previous Assistant to the president, and I´m just excited to work with them. I feel like they´re going to really turn the zone around. They are competent, yet humble, and willing to take advice, and I´m very thankful for that. I was on exchanges with one of the ZL´s Friday in his area, and the only thing I have to say is that COSTA RICAN WOMEN ARE CRAZY. I am contemplating dying my skin and eyes (is that possible?) to get them to leave me alone. For the record, this is not my fault!  I encourage none of this, but I would´t mind being really ugly.  I imagine that would help. Or maybe I already am and everyone is blind? Who knows.

I love all of you!  You are in my prayers.

Elder Noah M. Toney

Saturday, February 6, 2016

God guides us in simple things

February 1, 2016
Hello Everyone!

So the biggest news this week is transfers! I have a new companion, and if he looks familiar, that´s because he´s my district leader from these past three months. They sent my companion to San José, and the greenie of Elder Lopez (my new companion) to the beach. And they combined our areas, which are huge separately.   Now my area is simply gargantuan. We have easily over a hundred investigators combined. This is gonna be interesting. Now there´s only four missionaries in Santa Cruz, before there were six. My poor shoes aren't gonna last with all the walking we´ll be doing. (Why oh why are bikes banned?) It´s all very strange because I already know E. Lopez very well, He's always lived in the apartment next to mine. I've never heard of transfers like this, but I have high hopes. He´s a dynamic teacher so I´m sure we´ll be fine.

These next two experiences are gonna make some eyes roll, so please just realize that I am only relating what happened.

Magda and Runia are two older women (50 and 60) who love the word of God, they love to talk, and are a lot of fun to be with. Their mother also recently died, so we've been spending a lot of time with them lately. To cheer them up,  I thought it would be fun to do a spaghetti night where the missionaries made spaghetti, as well as Magda and Runia, then we´d test to see whose was best. Wanting my batch to be mouth watering, I called on my trusty cook Alfredo to help me (little did he know, I had an ulterior motive, I wanted his recipe, and so far he has resisted all attempts to obtain it). The night came, and the dinner went off without a hitch, the food was great, the company amiable. After we had all engorged ourselves, (painfully full) we sat and talked. And talked!  Boy, can they talk. And we got on the subject of Elder Ferrufinos imminent departure and the odious (to them) task of getting accustomed to a new Elder. So I mentioned how they had gotten accustomed to me pretty easily. And Runia (50 years old) said, "You know when you first arrived I just thought to myself, wow he´s really handsome." How do you answer that? Thank you? I´m already promised to someone? I decided to play the gringo who doesn't know the language¨ card, works every time. Although I´m sure it was a perfectly innocuous comment, it made me laugh a bit.

The second story is a little crazier. We have this couple as investigators, Randal and Vanessa. They're amazingly open to the gospel, really want to learn more. Only lately they have been avoiding us. We stopped by the house to talk with them.  Come to find out that Randal is very jealous and worried about the fact that "white men like Moreno women."  Really? I´m talking about repentance and salvation and all that great stuff and you´re worried about me stealing your wife? People these days. I'm either really handsome or giving off the wrong vibes. And since I´m not handsome... Something's gotta change. Maybe I can dye my skin.

So actually my part of Costa Rica is in drought season, we haven´t had rain in months. It´s just hellishly hot (although Indiana is worse.)

I learned this week that God will guide us in the simple things. This week I have really been stressed out about the disobedience I have been seeing, mostly because the result could possibly be very damaging to the Church and the other elders. Not knowing what I should do or who I should talk to, I decided to say a short and simple prayer. I felt like I should talk to the person (one in particular) that was having the trouble. I did my best to speak with love, and not as one who felt he was better or more pious. The result was gratifying. This elder opened up a little and told me about how much he was missing his family, and how hard that was for him. Also that he knew he needed to change some things and appreciated me being worried for him. The end result was that the problem was dealt with, and good groundwork was laid for later communication. Which is great cause he´s now my companion. :)

(apparently) Charmingly,

Elder Noah M. Toney

P.S.  This picture with all the missionaries is from a Costa Rica East/West combined mission conference to hear an apostle.
Santa Cruz Missionaries

This is with a family of recent converts, Elmer and Gandy.
We´re very close with them and spend a lot of time with them.

These pictures are from when I was helping make pupuzas, 
which are basically corn tortillas with cheese and potatos inside. DELICIOUS.

This is us and a family :) The pictures at the beach are from
our trip to san José to see the apostol.

On our way to hear an Apostle

Explanation - gerry wrigged wires my companion whipped up to get electricity into our room.

We should all be very scared!