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. :(