Sunday, July 31, 2016

Working hard and singing solos

Hello Everyone!

Life is treating me well. We are working really hard here.

Some man had a plane in his back yard
Something really cool happened. We are teaching a family that has two recently-baptized sons, but the parents aren't members, neither are they married (I don´t get it--people are together for thirteen years but are scared of marriage, crazy, right?) The mom attends church regularly, and always receives us; we´re pretty much part of the family.  But according to my companion, the father has never participated in anything. So we started talking with him as well, and Sunday morning we passed by their house to see if they were ready. He was sitting on the porch stop, had not showered, obviously had just gotten up. So we invited him to come to church with us. At first he told us that his mom needed his help, and that he had to go, but his wife quickly told us that it was a lie--he didn't have anything to do that morning. So we said, "Brother, we´ll see you there." And left. Five minutes into the service, He walks in with his family, clean and well dressed. Missionaries have been visiting the family for six months. It was pretty nifty that he showed up.

Being in such a small branch/group that is so small is interesting, They put me as hymn conductor, and I pretty much gave a solo--fun stuff!!!

Elder Noah M. Toney

THE MILLENIUM FALCON, coolness, I found it in the house of an investgato

Monday, July 25, 2016

One step at a time

Hello Everyone!

My new area, San Pedro de Poas, is about an hour away from San José where the mission home is located.  It is absolutely GREAT! I love it here so much; I just know that they won´t leave me here long. They have asked me to be District Leader here, which is a little strange, because usually the district leader is in a ward or centrally located.  Here in Poas we are flying solo. But it´s pretty awesome.

The meeting house is our apartment!  That´s right!  I live in the chapel.  Better said, my house is the chapel. Here we have a group, which means that there are few people that come--a group is the smallest congregational unit in the church, which is pretty cool because I get to see the church in the growing phase.  The downside is that there are basically no leaders to help. But we´ll see how we do. I have a feeling that pretty soon here we will be making this group a branch, then a ward, then a stake. But honestly, this area is ready to explode.  This past week we found 41 new investigators. 

Although I keenly feel my faults as a missionary, knowing that I lack many things, I feel a confidence, or assurance, that if I do everything I can, that the Man upstairs will work miracles. I have a wonderful companion who teaches really well.  He has about two months less than me, but we are making up for lack of experience by working until we drop. 

In this area we are the only missionaries, but in my district there are four, as well as the zone leaders (who are my leader as well, kinda confusing) That makes eight, so I'm kept fairly busy calling, and encouraging, and bothering.

Something funny that happened yesterday, I just about got kissed. Here it´s a custom to kiss on the cheek when you are saying hi, but as missionaries, we can´t do that. So I´m sitting in this chair talking with a family we just met, and in walks the daughter and tries to give me a kiss. It´s always a bit awkward trying to explain things after that, but the mom then made us food, so I guess it was all ok.

Zone Meeting Birthdays!
Although here it´s a tad more civilized, there are still a lot of problems that the people have. I struggle with seeing all of the pain. I want so bad to help, but sometimes I just can´t. I see so many unjust things that I want to cry, I know better than to blame God, but all the same, the pain, bitter, raw, festering, is still there. As a missionary people confide things to us, I only wish we could help more. That being said, the only balm for the hurt I feel, is being a missionary. I know without a doubt that this message is the answer. That if they would grab a hold of it they would find relief. My relief is in being able to offer the help, knowing that in reality, none of this has anything to do with me, other than the change that happens in my heart. What is important is helping them create a relationship with our Heavenly Father. For this I work hard, knowing that I have got to do everything within my power to help, believing that it can make a difference. 

I believe that I am changing the world, one person at a time.

I believe that everyone within reach of my words are world changers as well. And that one step at a time, we´ll walk into the future together.


Elder Noah M. Toney

Root Beer!
Visiting a shoemaker

Monday, July 18, 2016

My heart has changed

Hello Everyone!

Risk while you are sick is great!
I wasn't able to write last week, but don't worry.  Everything is good!  I had to go to the hospital Monday, and the rest of the week I have been confined to the house. They operated on my two big toes. Operate is a nasty word, but I suppose all the walking got to me. But they are healing really well, I´m able to walk and talk and everything, no worries. Someday I´ll tell you all the full story. But so much has happened!

About the baptism, Derian is fourteen years old and is really smart, like it scares me. I honestly feel like he baptized himself, like we didn't do anything. He actually asked us if he could get baptized earlier than the date that we had planned. No one does that. We found him, he came to church, and in three weeks he was baptized. We found him in the street with a drunk guy and he said we could pass by. It really is a bit of a miracle. He continues attending church and is helping pass the sacrament. Now that´s nifty.

Last night in Santa Cruz
Other exciting news is that I have been sent to a new area! After eight months, (six transfers) They finally remembered that Elder Toney exists and has been in Santa Cruz for all of his mission! Just kidding, I really love Santa Cruz, and have been very happy. In that short eight month period I have progressed more than in any other time in my life. But man it was getting crazy. as people would always tell me, I might as well buy a house and wait for the church calling, cause it looks like I´m in mission Santa Cruz. I've gotten lots of good jokes, like how my name must have dropped of the board of missionaries and they just plain forgot me there. If there is one good thing, it´s that I am now semi famous for being in my first area so long. (semi) Sincerely I believe that not moving me was inspired. I really have learned so much. I can say honestly that I love the people of Santa Cruz. When I look out over the congregation in church there isn't a single person I don´t know (...there aren't many people that attend....kidding) My heart has changed, my attitude has changed, I´m happier than I have ever been. Last night as I packed (late cause I'm a procrastinator and holy cats batman, how did I accumulate so much stuff?) It began to rain, hard. I went out to the balcony and stared out over the rain washed town. I felt all the hard experiences, all of the hurt, all of the failure wash away in the relentless deluge. Leaving me only with a healed feeling, that it was now time for me to go, that Santa Cruz was giving me it´s last good bye.

It´s hard to imagine my mission not being in Santa Cruz, it´s all I know. But when they called and told me that I would be going to San Pedro de Poas, I knew it was right, I felt it. This town is on the edge of a national park that includes the volcano, Poas. The area is inordinately hilly, and very high up, so it is super nice here, no more heat for this boy. The houses are beautiful, the streets are paved, and the cars are shiny (That honestly scared the bejeebies outa' me at first, in Santa Cruz, a car is only shiny for the first two minutes after you wash it, because there is so much dust.

So when I saw so many shiny cars, I thought, "Why has everyone gone to the car wash at the same time?" but it turns out that here, there isn't so much dust that it blinds and chokes you, oh how I will miss Santa Cruz)

Poas is in the zone of Alejuela, fun fact about Costa Rica, Soccer is popular (obviously) and here there are many many teams, but there are two that stand above the rest, La liga y Saprisa, its a great way to get in to an argument, cause everyone has got an opinion. I am saprisista, which is the team from San José, La liga, or LDA (liga deportiva alejuelense) is based here, in Alajuela, so I gotta be careful when I wear my Saprisa jersey, cause apparently that can be dangerous here. Also, from here on out, all of my family and friends are Saprisista,by association, cus' S is best.

Alright, enough now.


Elder Noah M. Toney
Hermana Rios and Elder Carias (two of my favorite missionaries) 
Elder Carias is my zone leader

Monday, July 4, 2016

Forget yourself and go to work

Good morning :)

P Day
Last week in church one of the sister missionaries was crying in the sacrament meeting. Now I'm not a doctor, nor am I any type of expert in women, but even I knew that something was wrong. So after church the four of us sat down to talk. Oh man, I did not know what I was in for. These sisters were really unhappy. More specifically, one was unhappy, and from that stemmed the rest. I am no going to go into details, but I will tell you what I learned. The one unhappy sister had said many hard things on varied subjects: the ward, her companion, the town, me.

Yes the pizza has 16 slices
So we talked. A lot. We didn't solve anything. I sat back and thought, "I do not know, I just do not know. I need help, Heavenly Father I need help, I need a lot of help. I don´t know what to do." Seeing as we had come to a point of silence where no one wanted to talk, I knelt down and started to pray. And in that little room something happened that I have been waiting for all of my mission. My heart changed. Unfortunately I am unable to express the full significance of that. But from my fist day in the MTC I knew that the biggest barrier that I would have to traverse would be myself. I know why I am here, I always have, and I´ve always wanted to be here, but there has always been a part of me back home as well. Wishing that I was there. I'm not much for being homesick, but doggonit, I love all of you so much and I want you to know it, I want to show it, but I'm a missionary.  Everything that is me has to be here in the mission or I will forever have regrets. I don´t want to be home, I want to be here. All of my thoughts are here. I have both feet here in the mission now where as before I had one in Indiana.

Yes we ate it all!
I have always had the fear that if I gave all of myself, I would find that I missed the bar by a long shot, and that I´d end up with nothing. This fear extended into all areas of my life, academics, sports, church, you name it, I gave a half effort. After all, if you always hold something back, you can still say that if you´d given your all, surely you would have succeeded. But since you didn't, it doesn't really matter that you failed, it doesn't hurt so bad, the insufficiency. In that little get together with the sisters, I did absolutely everything I could, and I fell short, but instead of falling, I found that Divine help intervened and saved the day. I found that when we give our all, we have succeeded indeed, and the end result simply does not matter. I got up off my knees and told the sisters that my companion and I were going to wait outside, that now was their chance to fix things if they wanted. We left. An hour later the sisters exited the room, and they did it with smiles on their faces.

San Jose
I am not so afraid of giving my all now.  In fact, I´m excited to give it all and see where I end up. I feel different nowadays. Better. My situation has not changed; however, I have, and that makes all the difference.

I love you and I pray for you. Go find out if you can be better. Be molded into a new person. We don't have to be sad or even content, we can be great,


Elder Noah M. Toney

The pictures of the beach a member sent me, 

because we are prohibited to set foot in the beach.

Derian, he got baptized. He´s cool :)

Sunday, July 3, 2016

The lost email

Sometimes it`s just hard to write, to put things out there and explain or share everything I`d like to. Unfortunately these short emails really don`t embody everything that happens, nor even a small portion, but life is what life is, and that must suffice.

Thinking on my past couple of weeks, I`m filled with a lot of different emotions, the small triumphs and the big failures, the frustration and the gratitude, the discoveries, the yet-unanswered questions, happiness and sadness. I feel like I`m living a life of opposites, but far from disliking the fact, I find that I quite enjoy it. My successes are painted neon by my failures, marking that although I sure did mess up a lot (a lot) There were a lot of things good that we did. There is a scripture in the book of Mormon that says if we didn't have bad things in life, we wouldn't appreciate, or even understand and enjoy, the good things.

I had an experience this last week that kinda put things in perspective for me. We baptized Keilor and Yolanda about two months ago. After the baptism it was a little hard to get out to see them, and unfortunately they weren't coming to church very often. The change they had worked so hard to make, was slowly being undone. To give a little background, K and Y always say how before the started learning about this church they always fought - never at peace. And how as they started to learn, things began to Change. Keilor specifically did a 180, he went from drinking and partying and who knows what, to a man who forsook all of that to have a better family. About a month ago we were able to start visiting them more frequently, and they started coming back to church. One Monday, after a family home evening in the house of Alfredo, we were bringing them home, (a member was helping us out) Keilor said something that gave me pause. As members of this church, we go to church for many reasons, but primarily it is to partake of the Sacrament. After your baptism, the sacrament is like your weekly opportunity to be washed up. To cleanse all of the bad stuff. When you don`t take it, the bad stuff sticks to you, and accumulates. That is what was happening to Keilor. Seeing him after he had missed lots of Sundays was a shock. All of the wonderful light that he had at his baptism had fled. But by returning to the church, you could see a black and white difference. As he told me on the ride home how he had begun to feel the change, I realized that this is all worth it, everything we do, if only having helped this one family be happy. I had the privilege to ordain Keilor to the priesthood this past Sunday. I would have preferred that a member do it, but he asked. Notwithstanding, it was a privilege to do it.

Unfortunately, I know that I haven`t done this story justice. But it is a miracle in my eyes. Never underestimate the good you can do in a life. If you help even one person, count yourself lucky. Also to those who are members, you are indispensable to the missionaries. Much of the success we had with Keilor and Yolanda had to do with exceptional members who helped us.

Love Noah