Sunday, March 26, 2017

La Familia

Howdy Everyone!

Costa Rica is pretty darn hot right now, not much rain, this is the hottest part of the year here, thank goodness that I´m not in Guanacaste now, that place is really HOT. Melt your shoes hot. We do have a lot of new missionaries! Which I rather enjoy because they always have a lot of faith. We went to the temple as a normal trip, it happens every once in a while.  Although I live in the zone where the temple is, we don´t get to go very often.

Some stories. You might recall that we baptized a family about a month ago, Isidro and Lorena. Isidro works as a truck driver. Recently he has had to work a lot. 18 hours, sometimes more. Obviously that is not healthy. The other day we visited them, we had a spiritual lesson, and he prayed at the end. But while he was praying, he began to sob. And I felt it. This family that I love so much was in deep pain. Him especially. It felt like my heart was being rooted out. We are so close to the people and see everything that happens to them.  Often we feel what they feel. I stayed on my knees for a moment, only feeling. I wanted to cry for him. It is a feeling of powerlessness, to know that you cannot step in and make everything better. But that makes the Message all the more important. I know that this is true, and I know that it helps. I know that there is a path prepared for him so that he may be happy.

Not long ago, we had an experience with a new elder that wanted to go home.  He barely got here and he was already throwing in the towel. Personally, it was tough. They are my family here, I feel what they feel, and when one of my missionaries is hurting, I hurt, although they may not know it. And this companionship was hurting a lot. (Funny experience, when the opportunity was starting, my companion and I decided to talk with them.  It was decided that I would talk with the trainer, and my companion with the greenie. The first thing that this elder asks me is, "Am I in trouble?" Whaaaaaaa who asks me that haha, like I´m your teacher when he calls you out in the hall.) One day while my companion and I were praying to know what to do, I had an impression. I was taught that what I had been perceiving as a huge problem was in reality a humongous opportunity.  It was a complete change of perspective. I saw and was shown that these two elder had distinctive needs, and that the Lord was able to meet both at the same time by putting them together. It was a divinely orchestrated opportunity, not a problem. Furthermore, four birds were killed with one stone when my companion and I were thrown into the mix. Because we also have distinctive needs, but The Lord met all of them in one go, with one situation. Now that is good planning, that is efficiency. I do not believe in problems, I believe in opportunities.

Things have become really crazy and the past five weeks have passed by so quick it makes my head spin. This last week we went to a mountain as a zone. I got REALLY burned though. Then we had a zone conference, this is where my companion and I teach 14 missionaries, and this time, President showed up, which is always rather nerve wracking. It went well, although I felt it was AWFUL.  Many missionaries said that they liked it, so I guess it turned out alright. I suppose that I still haven´t reconciled the Noah Toney of before my mission with the Elder Toney that gets up in front of a lot of people and speaks. Or that gets up on a chair, waves a flag back in forth and recites, "“The standard of truth has been erected; No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the great Jehovah shall say the work is done.” Joseph Smith. To get a room full of missionaries excited to work. Or that goes to meetings with Stake Presidents and Bishops. Or that (supposedly) leads. Who lives with faith instead of fear (or at least is working on it.) Yes, one changes a lot in the mission, if he allows it. I still make a bunch of mistakes in just about everything, and I get chewed out just about every day (for good reason). But I've learned to laugh at the errors (some of them at least) and then try and not do it again.

The thing that has most helped me, are my missionaries. Years ago in a dark seminary classroom, at six in the morning, a seminary teacher started something that has become a standard in my mission. We called ourselves "La Familia. " Since the start, when I was called as a leader, I was inspired to do the same with my small groups. At the beginning, it was something I believed, but not something I lived. As I have progressed in the mission, the Lord has helped me live up to what I have been saying. To me, my zone is my family. Everything we do, we do for the family, and for the Lord. Unity is everything. Although that is how I feel, It is a LOT harder getting everyone else to believe and live it as well, and it´s teaching me not to be so selfish haha, because when I am selfish, I am not helping The Family be a family. Hence the hard work. But little by little we learn, we progress.

(Funny side note, we have a thing we do here, when my companion or I say, "who are we?" The Family yells, "Familia Belén!" I just realized that that translates to, Bethlehem Family. You gotta love Spanish!)

Being a leader in the mission is interesting. It helps me grow in ways I never thought possible. It stretches me and pushes me, it knocks me down, and throws me off. But with every day and every opportunity I´m learning to be happy. Opportunities are blessings. Life is a blessing. I just know it. Things will work out.


Elder Noah M. Toney
La Familiala

On March 20, Noah wrote - "My new companion! We had transfers."