I Am Home! *Ü*

December 20, 2010

Last Monday, my last week on the mission, we dug a grave to prepare for my mission "death". All morning on Tuesday we prepared for the Rio Claro branch Actividad Navideña (Christmas Activity). We had to plan everything ourselves. Not only did we have to make all the preparations for the activity, but I also had to prepare to go home. I had a lot to do, and not much time to do it. That night the Actividad Navideña turned out pretty good. Around 50-60 people attended. There were a lot of members, less active members, and even some investigators.

Oli was finally able to come, and of course Mainor, Julie, and Tiffani came with her. Julie brought a friend again. Awesome. There was also another non-member family that came. They are a couple with a young baby. I spoke with them a lot and they are very friendly and it seemed like they enjoyed themselves. Someone else that surprisingly showed up was Jose. Jose is the guy who digs the graves at the cementary, and he helped us a little when we were digging the day before. While we worked with him we started talking a little about the gospel. After awhile hno. Isidro took over sharing with him, which is perfect, and we let the members present share with him more than us, so they could be missionaries. Anyway at the end of the work we said goodbye and we left Jose at the cementary because he lives there. But as we were walking away, I felt that I should invite him to the activity, so I turned around and invited him, and he seemed happy and said he would come. Even so I was very surprised when he showed up by himself to the activity, all cleaned and dressed up. I was very happy to see him there, and I think he had a good time as well.

For the activity we basically had a Christmas dinner and some activities. The members all helped in bringing food and preparing it (especially Hna. Merly), and it was pretty good food. The main other thing going on was "Compartir Lo Nuestro", which is that everyone brought things that they owned, that were in good condition and that they didn’t need anymore. Then everyone could see what they brought and if they wanted it they could take it home with them. We did it in an orderly way, by everyone taking a number out of a hat (well it was actually a plastic bag, but you get it), and getting in a line in order of the numbers, and picking one thing they wanted. We did that for a while until we just let everyone go grab what they wanted. I brought all the clothes, toys, etc, that I wasn’t going to take home with me, which was mostly everything, so I brought a lot of stuff. I think everyone in the branch got at least one of my ties. It'll be sweet to walk around church when I come back to visit and just check out everyone’s tie, then flip it over and see my name on the back, because it was originally mine. Oh yeah. So I got rid of most of my stuff at this activity, but I left my shoes for my comp, and I left one of my suitcases for a guy from Golfito that is going on his mission soon.

Also as part of the activity there, were some shows prepared. Actually there were 3, and 2 of them were by my comp and I. The first thing we did was a musical number. He played the guitar and I sang "El Niño tambor" ("The Little Drummer Boy"). It turned out good, people liked it a lot. We also did a funny skit with a midget Santa, "Enanito Tobarza". My comp was the face, and made Tobarza's legs and feet with his arms and hands. I was Tobarza's arms and hid the rest of me away. It’s complicated to explain. I don’t know if you understand what I am describing but you’ll see a video eventually. Basically we made a show with a mini Santa dancing to different types of music. It turned out really funny, and everyone loved it.*Ü* Our shows were good, even though we had only practiced that same morning, and didn’t have much time to prepare. The activity was really stressful, because I had to direct the whole thing and sometimes there wasn’t much order. During the Compartir lo Nuestro part, I’d be speaking into the microphone and no one would be listening so I'd make jokes about it, and the few listening would laugh. I had the microphone in my hands always so I made random comments throughout the activity. In the end it was a great activity. I said goodbye to people and took pictures with them, because the next day we were going to pto. Jimenez so I wouldn’t see them again.

The next morning we took the bus to Pto. Jimenez. We met hno. Martin at the entrance of Nieque. He drove us to Jesus’ house. They fixed the road to his house a little bit, so at the beginning it wasn't as bumpy as usual. We taught Jesus and Belizario about the priesthood. Then at the end we asked Belizario if he had been praying like we had invited him to do. He told us that he had, and that he felt good. I invited him to be baptized on the 4th of January and he accepted. It was the last baptismal date I set, in the mission at least. After saying goodbye to Jesus and Belizario one last time, Martin drove us out to the main road, where we said goodbye to him, and then we met Pte. Conejo and his son Aldair who were waiting for us in their buseta. Pte. Conejo took us back to his house where he fed us lunch, and he told us more stories from his mission or from his world travels. His wife and daughter Megan weren’t there, but we had seen them the night before, because they went to the activity in Rio Claro. After lunch Presidente took us to see Miguel, Alain, Erline and Roxana, and Juan Luis. At each house he told them that I had come to say goodbye, and then he would talk the whole time. Pte. Conejo is so awesome. In the night he left us at Ronald and Lilibeth's house, and we said goodbye to him. Ronald and Lilibeth gave us dinner like always, and Lili's famous Chocolate Milk smoothie. Yum! It was sad saying goodbye to them. They gave me a piece of gold, which is from Rio Tigre there in Pto. Jimenez. They should be married and baptized in this month.

On Thursday morning we took the 5:30 a.m. bus back to Rio Claro. We finished packing, I said goodbye to zona sur as we took the 12:00 p.m. bus to San Jose. We arrived in San Jose like at 7:30 p.m. The fast paced, crowded, and congested San Jose (especially during Christmas) is a sharp contrast from the tranquilo, jungly zona sur I finished the mission in. It made me feel a little bit of what going home would be like (just a tiny tiny bit.) At 8:30 that night I had my final interview with President Galvez.

Friday morning was my last changes meeting. It started with the final testimonies. Since 20 missionaries ended the mission with me, it took awhile. I was one of the last ones to give my testimony. After the final testimonies, came the changes. Elder Taylor took my place in Rio Claro, just as I had predicted. Elder Amador and Elder Dominguez are both training. Elder Perez went up to Zone Leader. The mission is super young right now. And there are a lot of new missionaries coming in. After changes we stayed for a couple hours taking pictures, writing in people journals, exchanging info, and saying goodbye. Then we took a buseta with our baggage to the Ap. house. My bags were already there because I had come the night before. Unfortunately the secretaries lost the keys to the house so we had to wait outside with all the luggage for an hour and a half. In the end we just left the secretaries watching our stuff while we went to visit some old areas. Elder Hanson didn’t have anywhere to go so he went with me to Tres Rios and Cartago.

In Tres Rios we visited Familia Vega, who are doing amazing. Paola and Byron who we taught and were baptized the week after I left, are doing great. Their parents and two brothers are active and well. There brother Stephen is actually preparing for a mission. It’s crazy that when we found them they were all inactive and two not even baptized and now the whole family is active members. They are very thankful and were happy to see me. Afterward we visited Ariel, who was also baptized a couple weeks after I left. He is doing good as well. It was great to see him.

We took the bus to Cartago. When we got off the bus I saw Eladio. We were actually going to go to his house but luckily we saw him in the street because we were really tight on time. Eladio and I waved each other down in the street. He and Arline are married now, and they are preparing to be sealed in July. We went to visit Jessica after that. She gave me a tie for Christmas. We stopped by the church to see hna. Marielos who was preparing for the Christmas activity they were going to have that night. Then hno. Silva drove us quickly to las ruinas where we quickly met Isa to say goodbye. Then we had to take a bus to San Jose again. We barely made it in time to Pte. Galvez's house for our Final Dinner, but we made it. To my surprise, waiting for me outside the house was Bryan, the Dueno from Cartago. It was good to see him, and say goodbye, and it was really cool of him to come and say goodbye. I felt kind off bad because he had been waiting for about 4 hours.

The dinner was really special. President and Hermana Galvez shared many stories with us and gave us a lot of tips. It was also great to be with everyone we had started the mission with. The missionaries in that group going home were Elder Hansen, Elder Smith, Elder Dwiggins, Elder Logan, Elder Lopez-Carrasco, Elder Fotheringham, Elder Brockbank, Elder Christensen, Elder Welton, Elder Davis, Elder Leiba, Elder Christy, Elder Sorensen, Elder Villanueva, Elder Cedeno, Elder King, Hermana Vallecillo, Hermana Hadley, Hermana Hunsaker.

After dinner we said our goodbyes to hna. Galvez and hna. Vallecillo, and elder Dwiggins (his parents picked him up after dinner). That night we weighed our luggage and spent almost all night trying to even out and make each bag under 50 lbs so it could go on the plane. Then went to sleep.

Next morning went to the airport. Called Karen and Xinia in airport and said goodbye. Called Brun and Jasmine but they didn’t answer. At 8:30 am we took a plane to Dallas. It was the first time in the US in two years. It was the first time in an Obama run USA. Didn’t feel the same. jajajaja. Then after having a four-hour layover, Hermana Hunsaker and I flew to Sky Harbor in Phoenix. I sat next to a man named Bret. He is a very large but nice man. His boss is a member and I was able to have a good conversation with him on the plane ride. I invited him to listen to the missionaries when he returned to his home in Texas.

When we arrived in Arizona, and the plane touched down, Hermana Hunsaker and I were super nervous. You first, no you first. jajajajaja. When we walked off the plane and no one was there we were a little surprised. We took a bathroom break and everything. We figured our families were waiting past security stuff, and sure enough they were. When we walked out they greeted us with hugs and tears. My Parents, Sisters, Grandma and Grandpa, Abuelito, friends were there to greet me. I didn’t know what to say or do. I was in shock being home. I still am. But I'm home. I think.

Yesterday morning, I was released by my Stake President. When he told me I was no longer a missionary, I started to cry. That day, at 1:00 p.m. I gave a homecoming talk in my old ward, I didn’t have much time to prepare it, but according to people, it turned out okay. It was really crazy seeing people from the ward that I hadn’t seen in so long. Also to see so many people I didn’t know. Some people that are no longer in The PV ward came just to see me speak. I got to church just before it started so I didn’t have time to talk to anyone before the meeting, but afterward I did. I actually didn’t go to the Sunday school class because people were talking to me. That night I went on divisions with Bryce and the Sister Missionaries. We talk a lady and put a baptismal goal for January. It was weird not speaking in Spanish, but even weirder not being the missionary. I still can’t believe its over.

I loved my mission. Although I wish I could go back and change some things, and although I would have liked to start with the knowledge I have know, I can't. Its over. But I was very blessed to be a missionary in Costa Rica. I worked hard, learned more than I thought possible, had unforgettable experiences, and I saw many miracles. It wasn’t easy, it was very hard, but it was worth it. I love the work, I love the people, and I love the Lord. This is his church. This is his gospel. I am forever indebted to him for the two amazing years he gave me to serve him. Now I offer those years up to him, and I hope that he is pleased. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.


The Marks of a Man

By: David Bryan Viser

As I jumped on board my flight from Miami to Salt Lake City, I paused for a moment to catch my breath. Seated near the front of the plane was an excited young man, probably 19, sitting with his parents. His hair was short and his clothes new and sharp. His suit was fitted perfectly and his black shoes still retained that store bought shine. His body was in good shape, his face clear, and his hands clean. In his eyes I could see a nervous look, and his movements were that of an actor on opening night. He was obviously flying to Utah to become a missionary for the Mormon Church. I smiled as I walked by and took pride in belonging to this same Church where these young men and women voluntarily serve the Savior for two years.

With this special feeling, I continued to the back where my seat was located. As I sat in my seat, I looked to the right and to my surprise, saw another missionary sleeping in the window seat. His hair was also short, but that was the only similarity between the two. This one was obviously returning home, and I could tell at a glance what type of missionary he had been. The fact that he was already asleep told me a lot. His entire body seemed to let out a big sigh. It looked as if this was the first time in two years he had even slept, and I wouldn't be surprised if it was. As I looked at his face, I could see the heavy bags under his eyes, the chapped lips, and the scarred and sunburned face caused by the fierce Florida sun. His suit was tattered and worn. A few of the seams were coming apart, and I noticed that there were a couple of tears that had been hand-sewn with a very sloppy stitch.

I saw the nametag, crooked, scratched and bearing the name of the Church he represented, the engraving of which was almost all worn away. I saw the knee of his pants, worn and white, the result of many hours of humble prayer. A tear came to my eye as I saw the things that really told me what kind of missionary he had been. I saw the marks that made this boy, a man. His feet - the two that had carried him from house to house, now lay there swollen and tired. They were covered by a pair of worn-out shoes. Many of the large scrapes and gouges had been filled in by the countless number of polishing.His books - laying across his lap were his scriptures, the word of God. Once new, these books which testify of Jesus Christ and His mission were now torn, bent, and ragged from use. His hands - those big, strong hands, which had been used to bless and teach, were now scarred and cut from knocking at doors. Those were indeed the marks of that man. And as I looked at him, I saw the marks of another man, the Savior, as he was hanging on the cross for the sins of the world.His feet - those that had once carried him throughout the land during his ministry, were now nailed to the cross. His side - now pierced with a spear. Sealing his gospel, his testimony with his life. His hands - the hands that had been used to ordain his servants and bless the sick were also scarred with the nails that were pounded to hang him on the cross. Those were the marks of that great man.

As my mind returned to the missionary, my whole body seemed to swell with pride and joy, because I knew, by looking at him, that he had served his Master well. My joy was so great, I felt like running to the front of the plane, grabbing that new, young missionary, and bringing him back to see what he can become, what he can do. But would he see the things that I saw, could anyone see the things I saw? Or would he just see the outward appearance of that mighty elder, tired and worn out, almost dead. As we landed, I reached over and tapped him to wake him up. As he awoke, it seemed like new life was entering his body. His whole frame just seemed to fill as he stood up, tall and proud. As he turned his face towards mine, I saw a light about his face that I had never seen before. I looked into his eyes. Those eyes, I will never forget those eyes. They were the eyes of a prophet, a leader, a follower, and a servant. They were the eyes of the Savior. No words were spoken. No words were needed.As we unloaded, I stepped aside to let him go first.

I watched as he walked, slow but steady, tired but strong. I followed him and found myself walking the way that he did. When I came through the doors, I saw this young man in the arms of his parents, and I couldn't hold it any longer. With tears streaming down my face, I watched these loving parents greet their son who had been away for a short time. And I wondered if our parents in Heaven would greet us the same way. Will they wrap their arms around us and welcome us home from our journey on earth? I believe they will. I just hope that I can be worthy enough to receive such praise, as I'm sure this missionary will. I said a silent prayer, thanking the Lord for missionaries like this young man. I don't think I will ever forget the joy and happiness he brought me that day. Well done, thou good and faithful servant!

Went to the Costa Rica Temple one last time as a Missionary

December 14, 2010

This week was really good. On Monday morning we played soccer for p'day. It was the first time I've played soccer in forever. We played with the Ciudad Neily Elders, Golfito Elders, San Vito Elders, some members/RC from Neily, Timoteo, Esteban, Moroni, and even our investigator Mainor. We played in an outdoor futbol 5 (the synthetic fields that can be outside or inside but are smaller and have a net or wall around the field and you pay to play in) for about an hour and a half. The sun was super strong, and because of it everyone ran out of energy fast. It was fun though. I had a got a hat trick (?). Our team won, but it was a close a game. I got sunburn.

After playing soccer we went back to Moronis house with Esteban and Timoteo. We went fishing in their finca. Didier has the coolest finca. They have a lot of land with a lot of things planted. There are many animals in their finca, like cows, horses, chickens, dogs, rare birds, etc. There are also two rivers that run through the finca. We went fishing with bottles and fishing line and bait. Esteban caught a fish in his first attempt, and he flung it out and threw it toward me. We went deeper into the finca to the other river that runs through it, and we tried to catch more fish. We had to walk across through the first river to go to the other one. We saw a crocodile from a distance, but it entered the water and swam away. It began to rain so we went back to the house. We played the guitar a little bit as well.

Tuesday morning we helped Merly build her pesebre de navidad (manger scene). Then I started divisions with Elder Fotheringham, and in the afternoon we took the bus to San Jose.
We arrived there at night, and the next morning we went to the Temple with all the missionaries finishing their missions this month, and with presidente Galvez. It was a very special experience to be able to go to the Costa Rica Temple one last time as a missionary. After the Temple, I went on divisions with Elder Lopez-Carrasco so I could go to Perez Zeledon. We went with Hermana Hadley and Hermana Orellana to San Jose Centro and went to Gringo Alley to buy some souvenirs. Then we went and took a bus to Perez Zeledon. The bus ride was fun, and took about 3 hours. We got home, in time to go home.

The next day Lopez and I ate lunch with the branch pres. in Perez. Next we went to Xinia and Jennifer’s house. We put a baptismal goal with Jennifer for the 18th of December. She is already in 2nd Nephi in the BOM, and she loved church. I know she will receive an answer. Her sister Caroline also agreed to baptism. Their mother Xinia needs to get married or separated. Her companion went to the Elders house while drunk the other night and yelled at them for visiting his "wife". If she gets rid of him shell be set to go. Afterwards, we visited the investigator Andrea. We taught about the sacrament and she is preparing for baptism.

That night we went out with Hermana Hadley and hermana Orellana to go Christmas caroling. We visited some investigators, Menos activos, and Recent converts, and sang to them. We sang decently and had a great time. We had some Christmas Santa hats with lights on them. On the last song we sang (En la Judea, en Tierra de Dios), we did different levels of voices like bass voices, etc. and I did a bom bom bom bom sound on one part as well. When I did this the Hermanas started laughing and almost couldn’t finish singing. It was a fun night. We ate at Pollo Campero to finish off the night. The Aps. came and stayed the night with us.
The Aps. drove us to Rio Claro in the morning for the Zone Training we were going to have with Presidente Galvez. The training was very good. We saw an impacting video about a member boy who wanted to share the gospel with everyone. We learned and practiced new ideas. We also had a game or activity to learn some mission principles. We broke off into two teams, and changed into sports clothes. We had to do running, basketball, soccer, and fly a kite. While doing these things we had to accomplish many things that seemed near impossible, like everyone doing a slam-dunk, etc. but we were able to accomplish everything when we realized what President Galvez wanted us to understand and learn through each of the exercises. We were able to apply many things like how to work in a team, follow the leader, help and want others to meet their goals as well, do things differently or try diff things, how we need to run at the beginning of the month so we can play at the end, etc. It was a great training for the zone, and afterwards we ate lunch at a restaurant in town. During lunch I found out that on his mission, Pte. Galvez had 14 comps (just like me) and 5 areas.

Before pte. and hna. Galvez went back to san José; they accompanied us to visit Mainor. They talked to him, and gained his confidence. He seemed glad about there visit, and we were able to find out that what really might be holding Mainor back is a fear of losing Oli if they get married, because he’s seen others living together for years but when they got married they had problems and separated. He also might have more of a drinking problem then he admits.

That night I went to Ciudad Neily for divisions with Elder Perez. I did Jose baptismal interview. It was the night of "el Tope" from the Festival de los Luces", so no one was home. Everyone was in the street. We contacted a family.

Saturday we ended divisions. Finally in Rio Claro again, we visited hermano Medrano and hno Melvin in the afternoon. Then we went to the church to open for mutual. Only Carla (the yw president) and Rosed (yw) showed up, so we played soccer with them. I was on Carlas team, and Rosed was with Elder Galarza. It was a pretty close game. In the end Carla and I won by one point, at the last second (20-19). Afterward we taught Paola about baptism and she agreed to be baptized in the beginning of January if her parents let her and if she receives an answer. Then we visited Paola and Mia and shared about Christmas and Light. We finished the night by visiting Mainor real quick.

On Sunday I had a talk. I started the talk out by saying, "Hypocritas.........Dijo Jesus a los Fariseos." My talk was about pride and hypocrisy and I kind off chopped the member’s heads a little bit, but they know I did it with love. When I started out with hypocritas... I didn’t really think anyone was going to react, but actually everyone noticed and they laughed in unbelief. During my talk I acknowledged that I was a hypocrite as well, especially for giving that talk. But I exhorted everyone to try to understand others, put on other peoples shoes (not literally), and not get offended so easily. People asked me after why I didn’t say goodbye to everyone at the end of the talk, but I didn’t feel it was that appropriate.

Stephanie also gave a talk about faith. She did really well. After church we had some meetings. Then we went with Pte. Cruz to visit Mainor, Isidro and Julie Segura, and Guillermo and Anais.

Today is Monday and this morning we dug a grave. Its pretty ironic because in mission terms, I'm "dying". The grave was for an inactive members non-member son. He was only 20-years old. It was really sad and weird digging a grave for someone my age. We started digging at 8 a.m. and finished at 12:30 p.m. We had to dig about 8 feet deep. It was hard work because the spot they picked for the grave was all full of big rocks and hard dirt. We had to use picks and shovels to soften it up a little bit. We worked on the grave in the hot sun all morning with 4 other men. We took turns so that no one would die of exhaustion, and we'd have to dig another grave. The end.

I'll see you soon.

Elder Tobler

I know we found them for a reason

6 December 2010

This last Monday we had Zone Council, and you already know how that went. We had a good rest of the week. This weekend was fast and testimony weekend. We fasted as a branch (called and invited members to fast as branch) for the purpose of strengthening the members of the rama economically, physically (health), and spiritually. Also so that we could bring more non-member families into the gospel. On Sunday many members and I shared testimony. That night we saw the Christmas Devotional Broadcast. Mainor, Julie, and Tiffani assisted. Tiffani was making a lot fuss like usual, but I think Mainor still liked it. Julie brought a friend. Right before the devotional we had visited Carla, to invite her and even though she wasn’t going to go, we convinced her to, and she showed up.

Our best investigators are two families. Ronald, Lilibeth, and Ronald hijo are a family from Pto. Jimenez. They are super dry Mormons. They have been very active in the church for 6 months, but they haven't been able to be baptized because Ronald is waiting on his divorce papers from a previous marriage to go through. Once the divorce goes through he can get married to Lily and they can finally be baptized along with their son. They are a really special family. They are more active and faithful in the church than many of the members. Lately they have gotten a little sad because they have been unable to progress in the church because they can’t get baptized. We have been calling and pressuring the lawyer a little bit so it comes out faster, and he has been pushing it through faster than usual. The lawyer told us it should be out this week, so maybe I will be able to baptize them. It would be in the ocean as well as with Jesus. We have been praying and fasting like crazy, so I really hope this happens.

The other awesome family of investigators that we have is Mainor, Oli, Julie, and Tiffani. We found this family by knocking door in a creative way. We were knocking one night, by asking everyone where a family of 5 lived. If they asked what the name of the family was we told them that we were looking for the Alvarez family. With this approach we were directed in all sorts of directions, until we came to a blue and white house on a street corner in an area between our house and the church. Since that night we have grown to care about each other greatly. Mainor has come to church about 4 times now. He has also assisted 2 baptisms and 2 activities. His daughters Julie and Tiffani accompany him every time, and Julie has even been to church a couple times by herself. She really loves it and she brought a friend with her a couple times as well so she is already being a missionary. Its really cool and she’s so sweet. Oli is super great as well. She has read the chapters we leave in the Book of Mormon, and she understands what we teach, very well. The big problem with her is that she works at Chicken Bros. and works a lot. Sometimes she has two shifts, and works in the morning, goes home for a couple hours, and then has to go back to work. The worst part is she almost always has to work on Sundays. Because of this she hasn’t been able to come to church yet and cant progress much. We have been trying to get her to talk to her boss, but she hasn’t had any luck just yet. Mainor big problem is he drinks alcohol, and it’s hard for him to leave it. He recognizes that the atmosphere he has when he plays soccer or goes to a party mostly causes it, so we have made a plan with him, and we're helping him leave it. So although they have a couple big desafios, including not being married, I feel they will be baptized eventually. We have had some very powerful lessons with them about Temple Marriage and Eternal Families. We have also visited them with some members (Yasini). We had actually set a baptismal goal with them for the 11th of December, so they would've been baptized before I leave, but it don’t look like that is going to happen. The other night we had a powerful lesson about the atonement with them, and then we took them to the church and gave Oli a tour of the church building, so they could feel the spirit. Later that night we passed by their house again, and we invited them to be baptized on the 11th, but they decided they needed more time, in order to deal with their desafios. Even so, I know we found them for a reason because a few weeks before we found them, while tracking my companion had felt the spirit telling him to knock the door of their house. That day el no hizo caso (he didn't listen) but luckily we found them later. They are an awesome family and will make a great eternal family.

So even though I've been really hoping and praying to finish the mission baptizing two families, a total of six people (10 in my last area), it will take a miracle for it to happen (so it could still happen).

We are also teaching Belizario, the Panamanian who lives with Jesus. We started teaching Christian, who works in Fabiola's house. Paola is a young woman we found by touching doors. She is really sweet and actually wants to be a missionary. The problem is that her mom and step dad are catholic, and they don’t let her go to church. We taught her mom about the Temple, because she said she never wanted to lose her daughter Paola. She really loved it and said shed be baptized if she received an answer from God, but she said shed have to talk to her husband about it as well. When my companion talks to me he calls Paola his "exaltation". We also started teaching Raul, one of the Charpantier's, because he hasn’t assisted since he was little and he doesn’t appear as baptized.

The Rio Claro branch is progressing in many ways. We have been pressuring and helping Pte. Cruz give the members more callings. We are his counselors, because his 1st counselor hno Marin abandoned us and went to San Jose. Julian was just called as Elders Quorum President. Hna Maira Badilla is the Relief Society pres. and Merly was just called as her 1st counselor. We called Yasini as the Principles of the Gospel Class. Our Recent converts received callings as well. Timoteo is actually the Secretary of the Rama. Stephanie is now the 1st counselor of the Young Woman with Carla as the president. Marbei Gonzalez, or "Coca", is the Sunday school teacher for adults. Felssy directs the music and teaches the YM YW Sunday school class. Hna Cruz is the Primary President. She is kind off depressed because she hasn’t had a job like she had in san José and she is stuck with only the kids. Luckily this week she got a job working in the arrozera (where her husband works) as an inspector. Another calling is that of Sabrina as the librarian and Natacha her assistant. I assigned Rosed to be in charge of putting the hymn numbers on display, but lately she’s been late so I've had to do it. We have had problems with giving callings because every time pte. Cruz has given a calling the person goes inactive right after, so it’s great that we are finally able to pass some responsibility out to the members, so they can learn and grow.

Our recent converts are doing really good. Stephanie is going to give a talk this Sunday, and she has her calling in the YW now. She is planning on going on a mission, but I think she is going to get married before going on a mission. She always goes to the activities and participates. Timoteo is the branch secretary, he always passes the sacrament, and last week he gave a good talk in sacrament. He always prays when asked and he wants to learn more and be a leader in the church. He would go on a mission but he is too old now (30). Esteban is happy about his baptism and he just needs to continue to progress. Jesus is super "contento" (happy) about being baptized and he tells us and thanks us every time we visit him. He is going to church every week, even though he lives so far away and has to walk more than an hour, with a bad foot needing surgery, and then take a bus, to get to church. He is planning on getting married to Hna Nieves this next month, and he wants to sell his finca and move closer to the church.

The Rama has a lot of young single adult woman, but not many young single adult men. Woman there are Yasini, Carla, Sabrina, Felssy, Carolina, Stephanie, and Fabiola. The only young single adult men are Moroni, who just barely moved into the branch, and Timoteo and Esteban, who we just baptized. Out of all these Yasini and Carolina already sent in there mission papers, Moroni and Stephanie are preparing to go on a mission, and Carla and Sabrina have said they would like to go on missions, so we got good mission material here. The young woman struggle a little bit here. Really the only active young women are the Barrantes Gonzalez sisters Natacha and Rosed. The few others aren’t constant and we are activating Daniela, but she only comes every once in awhile, and usually when we least expect it. The young men aren’t much better. They are all inactive and lazy. The only semi active one is Celtin. We are trying to help him learn and be more responsible. The last couple weeks he has prepared the sacrament and helped us pass. Mosiah was also recently reactivated and he has helped us pass the sacrament as well. The problem is that last week we found out that in the records of the church, Mosiah doesn’t appear ordained so we have to ordain him again, before he can pass. We hope that with Esteban, Moroni, and Timoteo we will be covered for the blessing of the sacrament. The problem is that Moroni, Mosiah, Timoteo, and Esteban all have to come with Didier in his car. If Didier doesn’t come then they usually cant come. Didier works with the District so sometimes he has to assist in Golfito, so were kind off worried about that.

Anyway, we are happy that there has been progress made, but there is still a lot more to do. It’s sad because while Rio Claro has progressed, the branches in the district have been falling. Golfito has dropped assistance to 20, and the branch pres. is never at church. Ciudad Neily has dropped assistance unbelievably to 12. San vito finally has a new branch pres. which is Elder Silva, but still assistance was low like normal of 13. The district is really struggling, and the missionaries in those areas need to do more to help.
However, the Group in Pto. Jimenez, which we also cover, is doing very well. They always have a constant attendance of around 30. They have an activity each week. At Jesus baptism there was more than 30 attendance. They have 11 priesthood holders. They give references. I don’t know why they aren’t a branch instead of some of the others. I don’t understand why they don’t have missionaries either. Pte. Conejo is super awesome, and he asked us to talk to pte. Galvez about these things, but it doesn’t look like there will be changes anytime soon.

Elder Tobler

We were able to meet our zone goal for November!

November 30, 2010

This last week was amazing. Both Esteban and Jesus were baptized in our areas. Jesus was baptized in 'Puerto Jimenez' and Esteban in 'Rio Claro'. 'Golfito' baptized Ezekiel, Yorleni, Virgita, Felix, and Margarita. In 'Perez Zeledon' they baptized Ananias, the husband of a long time member (cocinera of the misioneros Lady who cook for the missionaries). With those baptisms, and the baptisms of William, Timoteo, Randall, and Virginia earlier in the month, we were able to meet our zone goal for November of 12 confirmations.

My companion and I are super happy about it *Ü* and so is the zone. The best part about what we were able to do this month is that in the 12 confirmations we had in the zone, there were 8 adult men (much needed priesthood holders for the branches here) and 4 families (future sealings). Yesterday we were able to go calmly to Zone Council and report to Presidente Galvez that we had met the goal. He was really happy with our work. He said something like this (not exact, but parts of what I remember) …Como se sienten al lograr la meta? se siente differente, verdad? Es algo muy maravilloso. No solo lograron la meta, la zona bautizo 8 varones, 4 familias. En San Vito solo hay 2 posedores del sacerdocio ... How does it feel to achieve the goal? different feeling, right? It's really wonderful. Not only you achieved the goal, the zone baptized 8 men, 4 families. In San Vito there were only 2 Priesthood Holders (the new branch president who was going to san vito, Elder Silva, was present and looked worried after that comment) y ustedes bautizaron 8 este mes. Bautizaron una rama, en un mes. Es algo historico en este pais. Algo envidiable en centro America. Algo envidiable en el mundo. Buen trabajo elderes. and you baptized 8 this month. You Baptized a branch in a month. It's something historic in this country. Something desirable in central America. Something desirable in the world. Good job elders.

It was a really tiring month, but was well worth it and amazing. We did a zone fast, and prayed a lot to meet the goal, and I know that your fasting and prayers made a huge difference as well. Our new zone goal is 11, and we hope to meet the goal in two weeks, before I, Elder Fotheringham, Elder Lopez-Carrasco, and Hermana Hadley leave the zone and go home.

So more details about this last week, on Monday we planned out a sweet p'day in Puerto Jimenez. But things never go out as planned. I was going to go to Pto. Jimenez with Elder Fotheringham from Golfito, and we were going to meet the YM from the ward Moroni, in La Palma, so he could take us to the beach, but Elder Fotheringham showed up to Rio Claro 2 minutes after the bus to Pto. Jimenez left. We jumped quickly on a bus that was going toward San Jose, to see if we could catch up to the other bus, and catch it at Chacarrita, but when we got off the bus in Chacarrita, the other Pto. Jimenez bus had already passed. We tried to hitch hike to Pto. Jimenez, but no one would take us, probably because it was 2 hours away. Luckily, while we were waiting for the bus back to Rio Claro to give up on having our planned p'day, a bus from san José to pto. Jimenez passed and we hopped on. While on the bus I tried to borrow someone’s cell phone so I could call Moroni, but the first people I asked were Spaniards, and didn’t have a cell phone, the second couple I asked were from Switzerland, and they didn’t understand me, and the last guys phone didn’t have signal. When the bus made a rest stop, his phone did have signal and I called Moroni and told him we would be late. Then we talked to the Spaniards, and I tried talking with the Swiss people in a mix of German, Spanish, English, French (I think), and Italian, and we were able to have an interesting conversation. When we finally got to La Palma, Moroni wasn’t there, and we waited for an hour, then decided to just go to the beach. We asked where the nearest beach was and we walked to Playa Blanca. We saw the ocean and took some pics and then we walked out to the main highway and took the bus to pto. Jimenez. We then went to Ronald and Lily’s house. Behind their house there is an airport, where Ronald works. There is also a river swamp thing that flows into the ocean. Ronald took us to the swamps to see crocodiles. It started to rain a lot, but we were able to see a crocodile, and take some pics. Then we also went to the beach nearby. That night we went to the weekly activity of the Pto. Jimenez Group and we watched Jose Smith Profeta de La Restauracion (Joseph Smith, Prophet of the Restoration) movie. In the end it was a great P'day.

The next day we went to Jesus’ finca, and Elder Fotheringham did his baptismal interview. Jesus told us he couldn’t wait for his baptism on Thursday. We returned to Rio Claro that afternoon. On Wednesday morning Golfito had the wedding and baptisms of Felix and Margarita, and Ezekiel and Yorleni (Luz Neimy), and Virgita. It all took place in Rio Claro, because Golfito doesn’t have a baptismal font. It was a great ceremony, we helped decorate the chapel, and I lent Felix my suit and a tie, and many people attended. It was the classic marriage ceremony, my comp played the marriage song on the piano, as the brides were escorted in, and there was a flower girl (Dianara) and ring boy, and there were the rings. There was even cake. After the marriage everyone was taking pictures and eating cake, and then we moved to the baptismal part. The baptism room was full, because there were so many of the family members of Felix, Margarita, Ezekiel and Yorleni there. It was awesome because none of them are members and they all really liked the baptismal service. The baptisms went smoothly, even though I was worried about Virgita (only has one leg), but it all went well. While the baptizers and baptizees were changing I taught all the people present about the authority to baptize and about the Restoration of that authority. It went really well, and everyone present (mostly non-members) loved the marriage and baptismal service, and were really grateful to see how much effort we put in to making it special.

On Thursday the Assistants of the President (AP's) came to Zona Sur. We invited them to come that day because we needed their car and cell phone, because it was the day of Jess’s baptism. The AP’s picked us up in Rio Claro (they showed up late) and drove us to Pto. Jimenez. The baptism was supposed to start at 2:00 pm, but it ended up starting at 4 pm, because we had a lot of back ups. First the AP's picked us up late so they had to drive super fast to Pto. Jimenez. Second the roads toward Pto. Jimenez are terrible, especially after the landslides a few weeks ago, so that slowed us down. Thirdly, the AP's were supposed to bring the Hilux, but ended up bringing the Carrola, because the first counselor of the Mission, Pte. Soto, decided he needed the Hilux more than us (hahahaha), he obviously hasn’t seen the roads we had to drive on. When we finally got to Pto. Jimenez, we had to pick up Jesus and Belizario, who live down a bumpy, muddy road, deep in the middle of the jungle, and take them to the baptism. We had to cram in the little car because it only carries 5 people and we were 6, and Jesus is a very large man, so we had to get comfortable. Also before going to the baptism, we had to pick up the baptism clothes, which were in the church house in Pto Jimenez Centro, the opposite way we wanted to go. So that the police wouldn’t arrest us, Elder Centeno, Belizario, Jesus and I waited at the bus stop while my comp and Elder Smith drove to pick up the clothes. Then they picked us up again and drove us to the beach near Hno. Martins house, where the pto. Jimenez baptism take place, because there is no font near, so they baptize in the ocean. Although the baptism started 2 hours late, it was a great service. My companion baptized Jesus, and I baptized Alain´s 8 year old son, Jacob, who was also being baptized that day. It was amazing to be able to baptize in the ocean. What a blessing. There were about 36 people present at the baptism. Basically everyone in the Group. I think it’s the best assistance I've seen. Jesus was super happy about being baptized. He is such a great guy, and Hna. Nieves and him will make such a great couple. While we drove him home he kept telling us that he was "tan contento" (so happy) about being baptized.
After the baptism we made the long drive back to Rio Claro.

The next day we had Esteban's baptism in Rio Claro. It was also a great experience. Although the assistance was pretty low (about 8), Esteban was happy about being baptized. After the baptism Didier Gonzalez invited everyone out to eat fried chicken. It was really cool because it was basically us, our recent converts (Stephanie, Timoteo, Esteban), some of the Gonzalez Family (Didier, Sayleen, Yasini, Moroni), and Pte. Cruz. We ate some good chicken.

On Saturday we had English and guitar classes. We also talked with Pte. Soto (Mission 1st counselor) about some of the callings and suspensions in the branch. Afterwards while going to take a bus to a cita (appointment), we found his wife, Hna. Soto, trying to start the Hilux (remember the Hilux we were supposed to have a couple days before), because it wouldn’t start. We tried to jump-start it with cables connected to Hna. Julies car, but nothing. Pte. Soto showed up and his wife told us that he knew what to do, but he told us that he didn’t, and she looked kind of disappointed in him, but oh well *Ü*. The alarm had activated, but it was making noise, it just wouldn’t let it start. We finally pushed it to a car shop, and the guy told us it was because the battery wasn’t connected well, and once it was connected well, we could charge it up. That we did, and then Hna. Soto took us to get ice cream and then took us to our cita. Our cita was to climb up Mud Mountain again to get to the Charpantier finca (ranch/farm). This time the mud was even deeper than before, but luckily Carolina had left some boots for us, and even though they had holes, they sure did help a lot. After sweating a lot and making it to the Charpantier house we ate food that Carolina and Hna. Charpantier prepared. We played a little guitar, and we taught Raul about the purpose of life. Then we ran, or slid down Mud Mountain, this time with it raining super hard, and the path converting itself into a mud river. I felt like I was in Africa, and had the Africa song playing in my head. When we got to the bottom of the hill to the main road, we washed the mud off with the rain, and waited for the bus. It passed by and didn’t stop when we waved it down, so we began to walk, soaking wet and muddy. We tried to ask for ride, but no one stopped so we kept walking. When we weren’t paying attention, we saw what we thought was Didier’s car pass by, and we didn’t react in time to flag it down. My comp said it was "bad luck", but I told him that it was "good luck lost" *Ü* (Buena suerte perdido). In the end it wasn’t Didier’s car the first time, because 10 minutes later he and his family, really did pass by, and they stopped and gave us a ride in the back of the car, to Centro.

On Sunday there was good assistance. Timoteo blessed the sacrament for the second time. Moroni and his brother Mosiah passed the sacrament. Celtin prepared the sacrament. Its great that now the missionaries (us) aren’t the only ones who do this each week.

Elder Tobler

We were greatly blessed with a little miracle!

November 22, 2010

These last couple weeks in the Zona Sur it has been raining, and the rivers over flooding, and we had been complaining about having too much water. This last week the rains stopped, and we got what we asked for, but not exactly the way we were thinking. All of this last week the whole city of Rio Claro was without water. I don’t just mean without rainwater, I mean without water in the pipes. It was a pretty tough week because of it. There were some problems with the tubing that takes the water into the town, and they actually told us, we could be without water for a whole month. During the week, trucks with tanks of water drove around passing out water to the people. Everyone had to fill up buckets and bottles they had, with water, to use for washing, bathing, and drinking. Unfortunately for us missionaries, the times that those trucks passed by our house during the week, were times that we weren’t home, so we only got to fill up bottles once. But we were greatly blessed with a little miracle. After Timoteos baptism, the day before the water went out, we pulled the plug to drain the baptismal font, but for some reason, when we went back the next day, the pila was still full of water. During the week we were able to go to the church to use that water. We would go to use the bathroom, and we also filled up our bottles with the baptismal water, and took them home to use for washing, bathing, and flushing the toilet. After a full week without water, we actually got kind of used to it. In the end it was a great experience because, although the people were kind of sweaty and stinky, the fact that no one had water brought everyone closer together.

We ended p'day early this week, because we had some important citas (appointments). We started teaching Esteban, and he told us he wants to be baptized, so he has a fecha (date) for the 27th of November.

This week we visited Jesus in Puerto Jimenez, and he is looking really good for his baptism next week. We had to do the usual hitch hiking to get to and from his house, which is always interesting, because you meet some good people. After the lesson with Jesus and his friend Belizario (20 year old Panamanian who lives with Jesus), we took pictures of the toucans’, and even saw some monkeys. It was fun. We visited Ronald and Lilibeth at night.

Also this last week, we went to the Charpantierre house. A year ago in Heredia, I dedicated the grave of an old man who passed away, and the grave of his wife. He was a Charpantierre, and I knew he was from the Zona Sur. Turns out that his family is from Rio Claro. Sadly the only active member of the Charpantierre family here in Rio Claro, is Don Charpantierre's granddaughter Carolina. She is about 20 years old. Right now she lives with her mother and two brothers. They live in km 31, but about 2km into the jungle. The trail to their house is the muddiest hill, I have ever seen. The trail is literally a foot or more deep of mud. No cars can make it up this trail, but obviously we had to. Carolina asked us to show up by surprise and visit her mother and brothers, who have been inactive for a long time now, because of some offense against them I think, partly I think because the father of the family left them, and they were sealed and everything, so it was really hard on them. Carolina was supposedly going to leave us boots, so we could climb the muddy hill, but we never found the boots. My comp tied some white plastic bags around his shoes, and they looked really funny, kind of like we were on the moon, except for in mud. Unfortunately, I was forced to just get muddy. We were miraculously able to make it up the trail, without drowning in mud, and we got to the Charpantierre house. Carolina wasn’t home, but immediately her mother, welcomed us in, and she gave us food, and we just talked with her and her sons for a long time. They are a really nice family, but they have something holding them back from coming to church, but we don’t know what it is. After awhile we told the hermana that we had to go take a bus, because there was an activity at the church but they keep talking and in the end we missed the bus and had to run down the muddy mountain. When we got to the main road, I desperately flagged down a car, which luckily stopped, even though we were muddy, and drove us to Rio Claro. After changing quickly we went to the church to prepare for the activity.

For the activity we showed the Jose Smith Profeta de La Restauracion (Joseph Smith, Prophet of the Restoration) movie. There was good attendance again, about 25, and the Relief Society even prepared un Gallito (a little plate with a tortilla, rice, and chicken) for everyone to eat after the movie. That’s awesome because we didn’t even ask them to do it, but I guess they have seen our efforts in helping the branch, and now the people are starting to help us on there own accounts. It was great activity, and Mainor and his daughters came and liked it a lot as well.

Elder Tobler

P.S. Feliz Cumpleaños Mama! I wish you the happiest birthday you could ever imagine!
I love you and I hope you have many birthdays more.

Timoteo was finally baptized after two weeks of unplanned delays.

November 15, 2010

This week we finally had Timoteo's baptism. It was a really great service. Many members went, mostly the Gonzalez family (which make up half the branch), but Didier and Julian gave good talks, my companion baptized Timoteo, and we shared the memories of our own baptisms while they were changing. Our investigator Mainor came to the baptism with his two daughters, and he really liked it. Timoteo shared a great testimony at the end of it all. It’s awesome that Timoteo was finally baptized after two weeks of unplanned delays.

On Monday we finally arrived in Rio Claro after being absent for almost a week. The Elders in Perez Zeledon and Hnas. In San Isidro had been trapped in the city of San Isidro de Perez Zeledon for a few days because of the floods and landslides, and they didn’t have water for a couple days, but now they are basically back to normal, just in need of a few new roads. After going to Internet we went to Merly and Yasini`s house for dinner.

On Tuesday morning we took the early bus to Jimenez. We got off the bus a few km before Jimenez at the parada de Ñeque, so we could visit Jesus. Jesus is the boyfriend of a strong member in Puerto Jimenez, Hna. Nieves. We started teaching him last week, but he already has a baptismal goal for this month. Jesus lives deep in the middle of nowhere, and he has a finca (Farm). After getting off the bus, we were supposed to get a ride in a little blue car, that supposedly always passes at that time, and takes people 8km in until El Tigre (the town just passed Jesus’ house, named after the River that passes nearby) for mil colones each. The little blue car, or " el Carrito Azul", never passed by, so we had to "Pedir Ride" or hitchhike, to get to Jesus s finca. Luckily the owner of a hotel near El Tigre, "El Chocuaco", took us in his car all the way to our destination, even though it was passed his hotel, and he didn’t charge us either. We taught Jesus about the word of wisdom, and the Sabbath Day, and he committed to keeping these commandments. He gave us his coffee and we through it out. After the lesson we ate lunch that Hna. Nieves had prepared and explored a little bit. In his finca he has platanos, sugar cane, African palm, pigs, chickens, etc. Afterwards we left with Hna. Nieves, this time in the little blue car, to the main road, and then took a bus to Jimenez. We took a little bit of P'day (preparation day / day off), because there was nothing to do, and we had canceled p'day in the zone this week (we suggested it to the zone, since we had lost the whole week before trapped in san José). Then we went to some citas (appointments) and ended by eating dinner at Ronald and Lilibeths house.

On Wednesday (which was our p'day this week /changes) we decided to work instead. We visited some inactives, knocked doors, and did service (washed dishes and swept) at Daniela and Elizabeth’s house. We finished the night off by teaching Timoteo about the Aaronic Priesthood he was going to receive after his Baptism. Julian and Krissia accompanied us to teach Timoteo.

On Thursday we had district meeting and started 3 way divisions. I went to Golfito with Elder Oseguera, Elder Fotheringham went to Ciudad Neily with Elder Amador, and Elder Perez went to Rio Claro with my comp Elder Galarza. While I was in Golfito, we put 3 baptismal goals. We put a baptismal goal with Golfitos cocinera (cook), Xiomara, for the 27th of this month. We also visited the couple Ezekiel and Yorleni, who are going to get married and baptized on the 24th, and we put a baptismal date with Yorlenis mother Virginia for the same day. Virginia has an amputated leg, and has difficulty getting to church in her old wheelchair, so we talked to President Galvez and they are going to get her a new wheelchair, through the wheelchair program the church has. Afterwards, we went to Felix and Margaritas house. They also are set to be married and baptized on the 24th, but their 9-year-old granddaughter Dianara, who lives with them, she had some doubts about if she should be baptized. But after talking with her and showing her a picture of Jesus being baptized, she decided to be baptized as well, on the 24th. We finished divisions off by visiting our RC (Recent Convert) Stephanie (who lives on the limits of our areas) and watched "Between Heaven and Earth" Temple movie with her, and taught her about Temple and vicarious work. She is really awesome.

The next day we went to Rio Claro early to eat breakfast, while Elder Fotheringham and Galarza went for Timoteo's baptism interview. Then we ended divisions. The 3 way divisions were a huge success, because Elder Fotheringham, was also able to put a baptismal goal in Ciudad Neily, and my comp had success in our area. We are going to do these type of divisions every week. That afternoon we visited some less active members, like Hernan Medrano. Hernan is an older man, and he was desanimado (discourage) with the branch, so he said that he had done all the work he needed to in the church, and he was done serving in the church. I talk to him, and he changed his attitude. We told him about the progress the Rama was making, and that everyone threw in the towel, then no branch in the whole world would ever progress. We made him understand that even with his health problems, he could still do so much in the church. At the end of the lesson, he admitted that we were right, and he committed to keep coming to church, and he has been pretty firm ever since.

That night we had Timoteo's baptism, and had a reunion with Pte. Cruz, who is really excited with Timoteo, and is actually already thinking of him as a counselor in the branch.

Saturday morning we had English and Guitar classes. Afterward we taught my English student Walter about the purpose of life. Although he is a joven that thinks he knows everything, we taught a very clear lesson, and hopefully he meditates it and prays about it. That afternoon we visited Hna. Rosa, who is the mother of all the Gonzalez brothers and sisters. She has 11 children and I know 10 of them. There is Didier, Merly, Marbei (Coca), Saida, Juani, Jonathan, and Jeffrey who live here in Rio Claro. There is Xenia and Karen who live in Cariari. Maira lives in Puerto Jimenez, and the one I don’t know lives in San Vito. Not all are active, but it’s a big family. Only until know do I know who is a Gonzalez and who isn’t. Rosa told us a lot about the history of the family, and its sad that almost all of her children married non members because there aren’t much options here, and probably most of them are now divorced because the husbands didn’t want anything with the church.

That night we had Noche de Hermanamiento. (Fellowship Night) All of the activities we've had so far have been a success, with great attendance, about 20 to 30, but this time only a few people came. The idea was that it would be a simple activity, where everyone would come with a game or something to do, and we would just have a good time, but not many came. It was still really fun anyway. Those who came were Merly, Yasini, Rosed, Felssy, Felssys little sister, and Stephanie (all woman, except for us, kinda weird, but oh well). We played the games "Stop" and "Do you love your neighbor". It was really fun, many people missed out.

On Sunday we had a great day. Our investigators Mainor and his daughter Yuli came, and a young man named Esteban that lives with Didier and Timoteo came as well. After church we did the weekly ajuste de diezmos (Tithing Settlement) and then visited some members. We visited Marbei and her daughter Natacha and Rosed, and taught them about Alma 50 and left them a picture I drew while we told the story. They wanted me to sign it. Later we went to Mainor and his wife Oli, and Yasini accompanied us there. We had a great lesson about The Restoration, and they are super good investigators. We then visited the Hna. Martha, who I met in Cariari and have started coming back to church after being inactive for a while, we taught her and her ex husband Eliezer and son Carlos. Then ate dinner at Merly and yasini. The end.

Feliz Cumpleaños S! I hope you had the bestest birthday in the whole wide universe! Did you save me any cake? I'll be home in about a month, so i think the cake will still be good
by then, maybe.

Elder Tobler

Problems cause by Rain!

November 8, 2010

I still haven't written about last week, but I’ll write about it next week. I don’t have much time because we’ve been trapped in San Jose all week and just barely made it back to Rio Claro an hour ago.

This week we went to Puerto Jimenez on Tuesday. We taught Hna. Nieves's boyfriend Jesus. He has been to church a couple times and told us he really likes it. He is an older man that has gone to many different churches in his life, but he hasn’t found a church that he feels good in until now. He told us that he feels that God has been making him feel like he's finally on the right path since he started learning about the church. We had a good discussion with him where we really didn’t teach very much, but we just talked with each other, but the spirit was with us in our conversation and we put a baptismal goal with him for the end of this month. Later that day we went to visit Ronald and Lilibeth. It was Lilibeth and her twin sister Lilianas birthday, so we had food and sang happy birthday. We bought them a cake at the local super market, but when we opened it, we could tell it was expired. It was all smashed, and it smelled and tasted awful (like it was fermented or something). So in the end, instead of cake we ate birthday cookies. Also at Lilibeths house we taught her neighbor Jennifer. Jennifer is a young woman with a lot of worldly problems, but she has true potential to change, and she really wants to go to the Celestial Kingdom. We talked about the purpose of life with her, and it gave a new perspective on things. She will just have to decide if she wants to serve God or Mammon.

On Wednesday morning we took the 3 hour bus back to Rio Claro and then prepared for our trip to San Jose for Zone Conference. It had been raining all week, so a lot of the rivers over flooded, and many bridges collapsed, so we had to take the 8 hour bus ride to San Jose, by a different route than usual. We went up through San Vito, in the Jungly Mountains, and then up to Buenos Aires and Perez Zeledon. We usually go directly up to Buenos Aires instead of going around through San Vito. The Elders from Golfito, Ciudad Neily, and San Vito all came with us in the bus Wednesday Evening. We arrived at the AP house at about 11 pm and we stayed the night there. The Elders and Hermanas from the Zone in Perez Zeledon were supposed to come early Thursday morning, but because of all the problems caused by the rain, they were trapped in Perez Zeledon, and couldn’t come to the Zone Conference.

On Thursday morning we had Multi Zone Conference with Elder Falabella of the Seventy. He gave a great Capacitacion (training), and we learned so much. He is a very humble but powerful man. When I shook his hand, he told me he liked the Toblerone chocolates. After the conference the rest of the Zone was supposed to go back to their areas in the Zona Sur, but due to the rain that continued to pour down all across the country, but mostly in the south, they couldn’t travel back. All the roads to the Zona Sur were blocked off because of floods and rock slides, including the road we had taken to get to San Jose, so the whole Zone was trapped in San Jose until the way was cleared and the rains stopped. My companion and I were supposed to stay in San Jose for one more day anyway, because we had Zone Council. We had the missionaries in our zone that were in San Jose work with the missionaries in one of the San Jose Zones, Zona La Sabana, until they could get back to their areas.

On Friday morning my companion and I had Consejo de Lideres de Zona (Zone Conference) with Elder Falabella and President Galvez. In these monthly Zone Councils we have to give informe (report) of our Zones goals and logros (achievement) from the previous month. We also have to share our goals for the next month and our specific plans for meeting those goals. We did not meet our Zone baptismal goal in October. The goal was 11 baptisms and confirmations, but we only had 9 confirmations and 7 baptisms. It was embarrassing not meeting the goal, but we stated our plans for this month in meeting our new goal of 10 baptisms and 12 confirmations, and I basically committed myself, in front of everyone, to meeting the goal this month. President stated that he trusts me, and now I’m kinda nervous, because some of the investigators that all the missionaries in the zone promised were golden don’t seem so golden after all.

Friday after Zone council we went to work with the La Sabana Zone Leaders, because there was still no way to get back to the Zona Sur. My comp Elder Galarza worked with Elder Sangster (Elder Galarza trained him, father and son reunited) and I worked with Elder Lopez. Elder Lopez and I put two baptismal goals that night, and my comp and his comp put another one as well. We stayed the night in the Don Bosco missionaries’ house. There are usually six elders in that apartment, but with us and San Vito staying there, there were 10 Elders. We had to put two mattresses on the floor and sleep laying across both of them so 4 of us could fit, and it was very smashed and uncomfortable.

On Saturday we were desperate to get back to Rio Claro, because we were supposed to have Timoteos baptism, but there was no paso (crossing) and there was nothing we could do. We talked to Timoteo and explained that he could still be baptized, but he really wanted us to be there so he decided to postpone his baptism. We worked with La Sabana the whole day again. In the evening, while I was on divisions with Elder Lopez, I called Tracopa (the zona sur bus service) and they gave me the good news that the next day a bus would finally be leaving for the Zona Sur at 10:00 am, and we would be able to get home around 6:00 pm. I called President Cruz and Timoteo and arranged for Timoteos baptism to be held the next day at 7:00. That night I called everyone in the zone, that were scattered around in different areas, and we all prepared to leave for the Zona Sur the next day.

Unfortunately, when we went to buy the tickets early the next day, we found out that the buses that were supposed to come from and take us to Zona Sur, couldn’t make it through the passes, due to more floods and rockslides, and so they had to turn back. It’s no surprise, because it had been raining nonstop all week long. It was really disappointing, because I had to call and cancel all the plans I had made. We weren’t going to be able to have Timoteos baptism until Friday at 6:00. We attended church in one of Elder Galarza's previous areas on the mission, Asseri. It was cool how the people in the ward were so happy to see him again.

That night President Galvez invited us (the entire zone) to dinner at his house (although we forgot to invite Elder Perez and Elder Amador. Oops.). We had a large meal prepared by Hermana Galvez, with cake and Guatemalan Ponche, which is common there during the Christmas season. We were also informed that the next day (today) at 7 am. There were buses to Zona Sur. It was a great dinner, and Pte. Galvez also informed us that the only one in the zone that had changes was elder Clark (who was still trapped in Perez Zeledon).

This morning we took the bus at 7:45 to get to the Zona Sur. We went a different route than vie ever gone before. We took the Coastal route, which is a highway that goes south by the side of the Ocean. We passed by Jaco, and around Quepos, until getting to Rio Claro an hour ago. I’m exhausted but glad to be back home.

Elder Tobler
Presidente Galvez & Elder Tobler

The river had taken two of his nephews away!

November 1, 2010
On Monday we went to Family Home Evening (FHE) with Jose Marin and Laura. Jose is 1st counselor They are going to move back to Tres Rios this next month. After FHE we payed Laura to give us a haircut.

On Tuesday we did Service at (sister) Hna. Krissia and Julian's house. We helped them peel platanos (plantains), so they could make patacones and sell them. In the afternoon we visited Carla's mom Carmen, a menos activo (less active) woman. We talked with her about her problems, and applied Mosiah 24 to help her understand that God never forgets his promises and if she renewed her covenants by taking the sacrament every week, the Lord would relieve her of the burdens she was carrying.

We also visited Timoteo and put a meta (goal) for him to be baptized this weekend. At first he was unsure, because he felt it was too fast, but after talking about all the preparation he had received from the Lord, even before meeting us, and talking about all the blessings he would receive, he agreed to be baptized this Saturday, and was very excited about his decision.

On Wednesday we did divisions with Golfito, and I stayed in Rio Claro with Elder Fotheringham. We visited Timoteo for his bap interview. We visited some members like Hermana Marbei (Coca) and her two daughters Natasha and Rosed, and shared Alma 47 so they could remember to never let Satan convince them to lower their standards, even a little bit, because he attacks us bit by bit. We also visited the menos activo member family who were recently re-activated, Melvin, Patricia and their children. We taught them about Alma 50, and left them a signed picture about the lesson, so they could remember to prepare themselves spiritually for Satan’s attacks.

On Thursday we went to (president) Pte. Cruz's house and did service by cleaning up the wood and trash that were all over the land around his house. At 2:00 in the afternoon we took a bus to San Isidro de Perez Zeledon. After a 4-hour bus ride we arrived, so we could do divisions with the elders there. We met their investigator family of Elicinio, Ruth, Elicinio Jr., Dilan, Yoxidan, y Nathan. They are an amazing family and the 4 that are over 8, were baptized this weekend. We had a family home evening with them.

That night the four of us Elders slept sideways on two beds we laid across the floor. Its very uncomfortable sleeping like that, but Im having to get used to it. The next day we did divisions with them again. I went with Elder Lopez-Carrasco and my comp with Elder Clark. Elder LC and I had a really good day. We worked really hard, found a few new families, taught good lessons and at night we met up with our comps at Elicinio and Ruths house again. My comp and I did two baptism interviews each (I interviewed Elicinio and Dilan). They are awesome and gave us dinner. That night we set the alarm for 3:30 AM because my comp and I had to take the bus at 4:45 am the next morning, so we could get back to our area in time for English/guitar classes and Timoteos baptism.

The next morning we woke up at 4:40 am, and to our terror realized that the alarm hadn’t gone off and we only had 5 minutes catch the bus to Rio Claro. We desperately got dressed as fast as possible and ran like a kilometer nonstop, just in time to catch the bus. Even though we didn’t wake up at the time we had planned, we are super lucky, or blessed I should say, that we woke up before the bus pass, even if we didn’t get to shower. Unfortunately in our hurry, we forgot our agendas and a few other things in Perez Zeledon, so we were a little dis-coordinated with citas (appointments) and phone numbers and such.

After getting back to Rio Claro we showered (luckily there was water), began to prepare for Timoteos baptism that evening, and went to English and Guitar classes. At the classes we received bad news about TImoteo. The night before Timoteo went to Puerto Jimenez to visit his brother. It was raining intensely many days this week so, the rivers were over flooding, especially in Puerto Jimenez. When Timoteo arrived in Jimenez, he was informed that the river had taken two of his nephews away, and they hadn’t been able to find them. So immediately Timoteo began to help in the search as well. He was in the river and rain, basically all through the night, and because of this, he got really sick. They had to send him to the hospital, and he will be in the hospital for a few days until he can recover. Por dicha (thank goodness), his sobrinos (nephews) were found alive and well, so that was good news. Timoteo will make a full recovery, but because of this incident, he was unable to be baptized this last week in October.

Timoteo's baptism had been canceled for Saturday night, but we still had the Noche de Peliculas (Movie Night) activity. There was good assistance once again, and the members watched up with their families on the huge projector, while we cooked popcorn. That’s right, this time we didn’t just buy package popcorn. This time we made them home made (technically, church made) popcorn. This time we also passed the popcorn out in plastic bags instead of paper towel cones from the bathroom. *Ü*

On Sunday we had a reunion with Pte. Cruz. It was another good day at church, and the assistance remained constant with 45 assistance. I gave the 3rd hour 5th Sunday class about Patriarchal Blessings and other asuntos (bussiness). That night we went to visit Elizabeth, mother of menos activo (recent convert) young woman Daniela. We ate dinner at Hna. Merly and Yasinis house like every Sunday night. They cook really good food. Yum.

Elder Tobler

She is already making plans to go on a Mission!

October 25, 2010

This last week was crazy. Saturday Stephanie was baptized. She was set to be baptized this Saturday, but President Galvez visited her and seeing that she was ready, he invited her to be baptized a week earlier, and she agreed. She is already making plans to go on a mission. Its sweet!

Last Monday we just rested, something we never get to do. That night we went to Laura’s house to help her prepare for a talk she was super nervous about giving at church on Sunday. On Tuesday morning our zone had capacitation (Training *Ü* Capacitacion in Spanish), with President Galvez and his Assistants here in Rio Claro. We watched "The District 2" and practiced the 8 points in teaching that we learned a few months ago. It was a two-day training and since some of the areas in the zone are so far away, we had to put those missionaries to work in the areas close by. President and Hermana Galvez (mission President) went to Golfito with the Elders there. Elder Trost (AP), Elder Galarza (my comp) and Elder Lopez-Carrasco went to Perez Zeledon. The Hermanas (sister Missioneries) stayed in our area and went on divisions with Yassini and Sabrina. Elder Clark and Elder Thomas also stayed in our area to work with me. The rest of the elders went to Ciudad Neily. The next day we finished the training, and President and Hna. Galvez went back to San Jose. The aps (asistents of the president) stayed to help in areas.

Elder Centeno (AP) and I went to Golfito to do baptismal interviews. Centeno interviewed Stephanie, and I interviewed Virginia. I was supposed to interview Virginia’s husband Randall as well but there son had to go to the hospital because scissors fell in his eye. In the end he got sent to the hospital in San Jose, and since Virginia didn't have money to go, she was crying, because her son could lose his eye. In the end the AP's took her to San Jose in their car the next day. Their son is going to be OK. They wanted to return quickly to be baptized on Saturday as was planned, but since their son had a surgery on Monday, they have wait until this Saturday to be baptized. While they were in San Jose President took Randall and Virginia to the Temple, which made them want to rush home and be baptized as quick as possible. This week they will finally be able to do that. They were investigators in Larita when I was in Cariari, so they’ve been waiting a long time.

On Thursday the AP's (Assistants to the President) left and Elder Thomas from San Vito came to do divisions with me. When he arrived we immediately left towards 'Puerto Jimenez'. After the 3-hour bus ride we arrived. Pte. Conejo (President) picked us up and drove us around taking us to different references and inactive houses. After a few lessons, he took us back to his house, where his wife had prepared lunch for us. After lunch we went around with the whole Conejo family making more visits on the outskirts of 'Puerto Jimenez' and in 'La Palma'. We then went to Ronald and Lilibeths house in 'Centro Jimenez'. Afterwards Elder Thompson and I went to a member’s house and helped him prepare the talk that he had to give on Sunday. Then we went to the weekly Noche de Hermanamiento (Brotherhood Night) activity, that the 'Puerto Jimenez' Group has every week. We watched The Restoration video but at first the DVD wasn’t working so we sang hymns about the first vision while we waited for Ronald (who is a big tech guy) to fix the technical problems. There were some nonmembers at the activity as well so we aprovecharred *Ü* New word??? (took advantage) and my comp and I explained a little bit and shared powerful testimony about the first vision. It was a great experience and in the end we saw the movie and had a great night.

Early (5am) Friday morning, Elder Thomas and I returned to 'Rio Claro'. We worked there the whole day, I think. I can’t remember what we did exactly. *Ü*

On Saturday morning my companion Elder Galarza returned from divisions from San Vito and Elder Thomas went back to his area. After Elder Galarza arrived we had to go to the Church to give our weekly English and Guitar classes. This time more people arrived for English, but it was complicated to teach because everyone was at different levels. Before the classes started we started to prepare everything for Esteffany's baptism that we were going to have at 2:00 pm, and we started to fill up the baptismal font. We soon realized however that there were going to be complications. First of all, barely any water was coming out of the faucet in the font. Secondly there was nothing to cover the drain hole. We plugged the hole with plastic bags and a big rock and that worked, but there still was barely any water coming out of the faucet. After classes we saw that at the rate it was filling up, it would never be ready in time. We had to act fast so we asked the neighbors if we could pay them for water, and they agreed. We started filling up buckets of water at the neighbor’s house and carrying them to the church and pouring them into the font. After sweating a lot and pouring many buckets of water into the font, we realized that it would be easier and faster if we brought the neighbors’ hose over the church fence and tried to fill it up like that. We stuck one end of the hose in a huge bucket of water the neighbors had, and the other end (The hose wasn’t long enough) we attached another hose to it and used the suck the hose technique to get water going from the big bucket (balde) through the hoses and to the font. It worked, but just as before, there wasn’t enough water because as the water transferred from one hose to another, it was leaking water and pressure. In the end we used one of the hoses attached on one end to the big bucket of water, and the other end filling up the buckets inside the church grounds. As the buckets were filled we just carried them inside, and dumped the water into the baptismal pila (font), and we were able to fill up the font just in time for the baptism. *Ü*

The baptism was amazing. Elder Galarza baptized Esteffany, and after coming out of the water she had a huge smile on her face. Esteffany's mom was there and I think she really felt the spirit. It was really special for Esteffany that her mom was there because her mom is really Catholic, and when Esteffany started listening to us, her parents were very opposed to the idea, but after awhile they softened up and it was neat to see how they ended up supporting her. While Esteffany was changing into her baptismal clothes her mom asked me if I thought Esteffany was ready for baptism. I told her that she was more ready than many people are when they are baptized. And she really is. She is awesome. She accepted the baptismal invitation we made to her, before we even taught her anything, because she had already felt the spirit at church, and knew it was true. Now she is super excited and she is preparing for a mission. The Lord has been preparing her for a long time.

After the baptism we had the almost weekly Rama activity, but this time the activity my comp and I planned was for the whole Rio Claro district. It was Noche de Talentos (Talents Night). It was a really awesome activity. There were many talents displayed. The branch president from Ciudad Neily Pte. Bella did a whole bunch of cartwheel and handstand type move and through himself on the ground, which is crazy because he’s an old man. Elder Perez and some of the Jovenes (youth) from Ciudad Neily sang some songs, and Elder Perez has a pretty good voice. Elder Amador told an inspiring story and showed us some of the drawings he made. He had the only talent that ended in the name of Jesus Christ amen. Rosed and Carla danced to some Latin music. Nelson and Sabrina, showed a lot of guts and played a song my comp taught them in Guitar classes. Elder Galarza declamo (told a sad story) about a dead dog in a deep and monotone voice. I did a juggling act. My comp and I and two young men did a funny missionary skit. My comp and I also played and sang a song (We both played the guitar and I sang) and there were some other talents shown as well. It was a really fun night and everyone had a great time.

On Sunday morning we woke up at 5am (Every Sunday we wake the whole zone up at 5am, so they can get ready and go wake up and pick up investigators and menos activos (Less active) like always. We got ready and then went with Pte. Cruz to wake up and animate (encourage) the members to come to church. Pte. Marin told us he couldn’t help that day, so we only had one car. While waking people up we saw Didier, and he told us that he had to go to San Vito, so he wasn’t going to be able to pick up Timoteo and take him to church. We had to act fast because if Timoteo didn’t go to church he wouldn’t be baptized this month. I told Pte. Cruz to take me to Pte. Marins house and leave me there, and I would talk to Hno. Marin (brother Marin) and get him to take me in his car to pick up Timoteo. Pte. Cruz and my comp dropped me off at the Marin home, and after explaining the situation to Hno. Marin, he agreed to take me to Didier’s house, which was kind off far away, to pick up Timoteo. We went and surprised Timoteo by picking him up and taking him and some of Didier’s children to church. Meanwhile my comp and Pte Cruz went around inviting the members to church.

In the end at church, we had the second week of high assistance. The assistance was 44. It was down from the week before of 55, but it is still pretty good for Rio Claro, so our efforts are giving fruits. My comp gave a talk about Spiritual Progress, and continued our exhortation to the members to put in all their efforts to progress spiritually individually, as a family, and as a branch. Afterwards we taught TImoteo in the Gospel Principles class. Then the last hour I gave the Elders Quorum class about Family Responsibilities.

After church we did the same we do every Sunday. Have our meeting with Pte. Cruz to count tithing, etc., clean up and close up the church. Then we ate lunch. Then we went to citas. We went to a young woman RC (recent convert) named Daniela, who was inactive, but has started coming back to church. We went there with Carla. We taught the nonmember mother of Daniela who said if she finds out that the Book of Mormon is true she will be baptized. Then we ate dinner at the Merly/Yassini Gonzalez home.

Today (Monday, Oct 25) my comp and I went to Paso Canoas, on the border of Panama and Costa Rica. Everyone goes there to buy stuff because it supposedly cheaper. There are a couple store/mall things there, and on the outside of the stores, there are the little market style open tiendas where they sell the stuff cheaper than inside. Technically I've been to Panama now because the stores are directly on the border and as we were looking for things to buy we asked where something was and the lady said that maybe we could find it on the Costa Rica side. So I guess in that store, we were in Panama. In the end we only bought some little Panama flags, and then took the bus back to Ciudad Neily and then Rio Claro. Weaccidently took the scenic route bus back to Rio Claro, because we went on the bus that goes through all the fincas (farms), and takes like half an hour longer than the normal bus.

Timoteo was supposed to be baptized but we have the worst luck ever. I'll write more next week about it.

Elder Tobler