Its been a good week

July 26, 2010
Brun (Anghedon) and Jasmine told us yesterday that they want to be baptized. We had put our baptismal goal for August at 1, but on Saturday night we felt we should change it to 2. When I called Jasmine during the week, i could tell they had something they wanted to tell us. They told us about them wanting to be baptized after church yesterday. We put the appointment for August 15, because they are going to be out of town next week. We are really happy and they are as well.

This week there was a really crazy lightning storm that made us soaking wet and made the power go out in the whole city. The lights went out in the middle of our lesson. The power has been going out a lot lately, and they’ve been shutting the water off in the city a lot as well.

Went on divisions again in Turrialba again this week. I try to go on divisions once a week and sometimes I have to go more than that, like last week.

Its been a good week. We had a lot of lessons, knocked a lot of doors, and found a lot of new investigators. We’ve been knocking around the church. We make every door contact the best we can, and even though most people don’t want to listen, we try our hardest to interest each person we talk to, about our message. Even though we’ve been knocking in the heart of this catholic city, we teach Jehovah’s Witnesses, Adventists, Evangelicals, etc. as well. We found two sweet families around the church this week. We are going to keep knocking til we’ve knocked every door in every part around the church. We need more references. Haven’t gotten any. Working on that.

We continue to have English classes at the church, but only four people go. An elderly man named Reco, his granddaughter Samantha, El Italiano, and my comp. They all call me teacher. I gave the class an exam last week. The last question on the exam was, ‘Where did you come from, why are you here, and where are you going after this life?’ That question made it so people in the class started to ask questions, and I was able to talk a little about the plan of salvation and the restoration, and now we are teaching Reco and Samantha. Reco is an elderly man that always has red eyes, always shakes, and smells like alcohol. Basically he drinks and smokes all the time, I want to help him. I am also helping a guy that lives in our house with English as well.

Hna Lijia (la dueña) has had leg and back problems since I got here, and I feel bad because even though we try to help her and tell her to rest she doesn’t listen. She gets really stressed because she feeds a lot of people that come into her house (I don't know who these people are, its really random types of people that come through here) and she feels she always has to make sure everything is clean all the time, even if she has to go through a lot of pain to get it done. Lijia was also taking care of her 96 year old uncle, A few weeks ago they took him to the hospital, and he died this week, so they had his funeral, and a lot of their family came to the house.

Yesterday Brun, Jasmine, and there son Sebastian came to church by themselves again. Some new investigators that live just down the street from the church, Jessica and Isa, came with us to church. Jessica is Isa’s daughter-in-law. Jessica is from El Salvador. Her father is a member of the church in El Salvador. Jessica is a really fun lady and is always laughing. She really enjoyed church and was already talking about baptism. She asked if her dad come down from El Salvador and baptize her, she knows he would be so surprised but so happy. She still hasn't decided yet. Isa is a little harder to read. She seems really negative about everything, but I think its just that she is is super sarcastic. She said she didn't like the church, because its not what shes used to, and she was complaining basically the whole time. She thinks that the people who prayed didn't pray loud enough and she said it was boring. I think she liked it more than she admits, but we’ll see. One thing she did say she liked a lot were the hymns. I had to point my finger at the words the whole meeting so she could sing along, but i think she finally gets how to read the hymns.

Today we went to Turrialba as a district to Parque Nacional Guayabo. It has the only Mayan ruins in Costa Rica. I was expecting something a little more spectacular, but in the end it was still really cool and we had a good time. We saw the ruins and also got to swing through the jungle on vines again.
Elder Tobler

waiting longer to receive the blessings of baptism.

July 19, 2010
On Thursday I did 8 baptismal interviews in Paraiso. The people getting baptized were Ana De La O, and her children Suyen (19), Merlyn (15), Rosa (13), Leo (10), Andriw (8), Tatiana (20), and Tatiana’s husband Jose. I interviewed Jose and Tatiana first at their house and then we went over to Ana’s house for the rest of the interviews. I tried to make sure that each interview was special even with the little kids. Each interview should be a spiritual experience where the investigator opens up and shows fruits of repentence, and thats exactly how they were. I spent about 6 hours doing the interviews. That’s counting travel time in between the two houses and including time to drink agua dulce and chit chat, but the interviewing did take awhile. It was an amazing experience because they really opened up to me and I could really tell that they sincerely wanted to follow Jesus Christ and change their lives.

Ana’s interview was over an hour long and very special. She is a very strong woman and although she’s had a tough past, she knows she has to change for her children. She has fears of failing her children after baptism, but understands that she has to do her best and Heavenly Father will give her the extra strength she needs. Jose told me in the interview that he’s never been so sure about anything, as he is about his decision to be baptized. He kept telling me that he couldn’t wait til Saturday for the baptism. Suyen’s interview was also very special and she has really come to understand her purpose in life and that she is a daughter of God. All the others were very happy and excited about the baptism, saying they can’t wait.

Saturday finally came and I went to the baptism because Ana asked me to baptize her. It was awesome to be able to go to their family’s baptism. Elder Whitlock baptized 3, Elder Urbina baptized 3, I baptized Ana, and a member baptized Suyen. My companion gave the talk about baptism and did a really good job. Not many members went but you couldn’t really tell because the family is so big. There were like 8 members and 8 members of the family, and four missionaries so it was cool. When the time came for the baptisms some of them got nervous and it took awhile to baptize them all but in the end it all worked out. To end the service Ana, Tatiana, Jose, Suyen, Merlyn, and Leo shared their testimonies and the spirit was super strong. They were all so happy. Even Merlyn, who seems to be less of a smiler, was smiling the whole time. My comp and I took the same bus as them on the way home, and when they got off they all waved goodbye. It was an awesome night.

It’s really fun training my new comp. He is so eager to learn. The first few days together something hilarious happened. After an appointment failed us, I was calling them from a pay phone but my comp really wanted to learn how to contact families, so when a family past by, I hung up the phone and contacted the family and we put an appointment with them to pass by later in the week. Then it was my comps turn. I began to call from the pay phone again while my comp waited for another family to pass. When a family came walking toward us I let him go contact and I observed while still at the pay phone. My comp walked up to the head of the family and used the same technique I had used to start talking to them (I asked for directions to a certain area to start talking to them, then made the contact). When the guy answered his question, my comp turned back and looked at me (I was behind his back, the family facing me) with an excited smile on his face. I don’t know why he looked back at me. I don’t know if it was to get my approval, or to give me a look saying, “Look at me. I’m doing it.”. All I know is that while he looked back at me, the family he was contacting walked into a nearby store, without even noticing he wasn’t finished talking with them. When my comp turned back around and saw them walking away, he just sagged his shoulders and looked down at the floor in disappointment. I couldn’t help but burst into laughter, and I0 left a message of laughter to the person I was calling on the payphone. It was so funny, straight out of a movie.
Yesterday in church Eladio (Recent Conver) gave a talk. He did a great job, and even though he had a tough topic (moral discipline) and was super nervous, I couldn’t tell because he gave a great talk. The less active family (of Hna Gretel and her two daughter and one son) we have been visiting has started coming back to church and they plan to stay strong from now on. There are also some Young Men that have been reactivated, which is critical for the ward because, up until now they didn't have any active YM
Brun and Jasmine came to church by themselves again yesterday. We also went to pick up an investigator young woman named Marianella or Nella for short. We went to pick her with the RC Marianella and it was awesome because she was with her all throughout church. This is good for the investigator but also for the RC Marianella because she feels left out with the other YW in the ward so maybe this could be good for her. If she got baptized we’d have three YW Marianella’s in the ward. I’m going to call the recent convert MARI, the long time member A, and the inverstigator NELLA. We tried to pick up Mari’s sister Maria Jose and take her to church as well, but she wouldn’t come even though she promised us the night before that she would.

After church we started divisions with the ZLs. Its the first and probably last time we do divisions on a Sunday. Elder Castillo came to meet Brun and Jasmine. We had a good lesson about the Sacrament and we challenged them to be baptized again. They said they know its true and they want to be baptized, but not yet. They are afraid of failing after baptism or finding out about something (like a commandment) they can’t keep after baptism so they want to wait longer. We told them we could tell them about all the commandments they wanted to know about, and explained that if they knew it was true they would change those things anyway, before or after baptism, so there was no point in waiting longer to receive the blessings of baptism. Like it says in the sacrament prayers, the Lord expects us to be willing to keep his commandments, and we won’t be perfect right away, but the spirit will help us, etc. In the end they are going to pray to know if they are ready for baptism. We talked to some members that live by Brun and Jasmine (Jorge y Silvia) and got them to invite Brun and Jasmine to dinner. I hope they went.

Last night us and the Hna’s had dinner at Obispo Ortiz’s house. It was a really funny dinner and we were all laughing the whole time. The bishop has one of those laughs that make you want to laugh as well. It was fun.

We’re trying to finally get to know where all of the members live. They all live far away from the church and only two really live in our area. The rest live in the Hnas area. That’s why we are trying to focus our efforts right now to finding people around the church. Cartago is huge and has unbelievable potential. Cartago is a city of pure houses. There are lots of people and area within the wards boundaries, and it should have like five wards here. There is only one. More people assist Paraiso’s ward when Paraiso is like a fifth of the size of Cartago or less. The church location is pretty lame. Its near the most dangerous part of Cartago, and really hidden away. The reason is that when they wanted to build the church back in the 80’s, the city wouldn’t let them because the catholics were opposed. Finally they let them build, basically in a trash pit, and even then people were getting signature to oppose the construction. Anyway thats where the church is still located, but Cartago has so much potential.
This ward is pretty awesome. The ward has its own culture. There are a lot of great people here. I really enjoy the "Principios del Evangelio" (Principles of the Gospel) class given by Hna Marielos and is attended by recent converts, investigators, a blind man named Santos that comes everyweek, and a special couple. A little girl named Daina, who is ten and not baptized, comes to church every week by herself. Her parents aren’t members but they let her come to church cause she likes it. She is really sweet and has no fear, talks to everyone. We’ve taught her and her parents, and we eat lunch at their house all the time, but they don’t want to go to church, and say Daina isn’t ready for baptism.

This week we had a district blitz in Cartago and in Turrialba. A blitz is when all the missionaries in the district go and work in one area for a few hours. Its a good way to help out the areas find new people and get an energy boost. It was good and i think it helped out the district.
Elder Tobler

I'm out of time

July 12, 2010
Sorry I can't write much because I'm out of time. My new companion is Elder Montoya. He is from Mexico City, Mexico. He has 1 month on the mission, and 1 week in the country. Its been an interesting week. After changes i was comps with Elder Taylor (from Porvenir/ Gravilias in Desamparados) for two days while we waited to receive our new comps. I received my new companion on Wednesday morning. We've been knocking lots and lots of doors and i finally understood why everyone thinks Cartago is hard. We had the usual, but more usual than usual. We got a lot of responses like "No!", "No, I'm catholic.", "No, no, no, no, no.", and "Slam!". We also got the sometimes even more annoying responses like, "I'm really busy right now." "If it were any other day, i would be happy to attend you, but i cant today.", and "Maybe another day, If God permits". My comp thinks it's really funny how I respond to people, and that's really how we get through a day where no one listens to us. We try to have fun, but its been kinda discouraging, especially since my companion is really new, and i don't want him to get discouraged as well. Its really annoying (but i guess i should be used to it by now) when after people say that we can come by another day and we ask them when, and try to put a cita with them, they say "I don't know when, just another day." "What do you mean you don't know when?" "Well, its just, we might leave." "Well yeah, that's why we put a cita. So you don't leave." Yeah. There are some really interesting people in this world.

This Sunday Brun and Jasmine came to church alone. We visited them last night, and they are awesome. They are reading the Book of Mormon and you can tell that they get excited every time they learn or understand a new principle of the gospel. They will get baptized soon i think.

Paraiso has 8 baptisms this Saturday, so i have 8 baptismal interviews to do this week. Its crazy because a couple weeks ago they didn't have any investigators and out of nowhere they found an awesome family and now they're going to get baptized. They've been finding loads of awesome investigators.

In other news Ariel, from Tres Rios (the young man who had Buddhist influences) got baptized a couple weeks ago! Yay!

Anyway, ill finish telling you more next week.

Elder Tobler

Today was changes.

July 5, 2010
My companion Elder Rivera got changed out of Cartago. He got sent to Puerto Limon. I still don't know who my new companion is because im training. My comp comes tomorrow night. No one else in the district had changes except for Hermana Roundy of course, because she is going home. The Hermana that takes her place is Hermana Vallecillo who i think is from Honduras. Tomorrow Elder Bonn (my trainer) , Elder Tagliaferi (my second DL), Elder Manning (Ex ZL and AP), Elder Shrock (my ZL and Joshua Chapel's cousin), Elder Holt (Ex-seceratary), Elder Sologuren (AP), Hermana Roundy, and others finish their missions and go home. That's crazy! Before changes i predicted two things. I predicted that Elder Belmont (who was in my district in Cariari) would be my new ZL, and that Elder Christensen (who was in the Mtc with me and the only Elder i came in with) would be the new AP. I was right. Elder Belmont is my new ZL and Elder Christensen is the new AP.

My comp was really sad to leave Cartago. He is especially close to our Dueñas family. The missionaries have lived in that house for more than 20 years. Hna Lijias son Bryan (like 24 years old) basically grew up with the missionaries and grew up in the church. I really don't understand why they aren't members. They know a lot of the members, they know a lot about the church. Bryan used to always go to primary and used to accompany the missionaries to the appointments to teach the lessons. Bryan's girlfriend Shirley and her cousin Stephanie have also met a lot of missionaries in the past as well. Bryan recently decided not to drink any more coffee because he realized it was staining his teeth. Even though im sure many missionaries have shared the gospel with them, im going to continue to get to know them and share little things with them all the time and see what happens.

To answer your questions, we helped unflood peoples houses with mops and brooms. We swept the water out of the house. Yes, Hna Roundy's parents (Mission Pres. in Colombia) are finishing the mission basically at the same time as her (right now). We are trying to teach Karen's dad.
I hope everyones doing fantastically well and meeting their summer goals.

Elder Tobler

It's been raining like crazy around here

June 28, 2010
This week Karen and Sebastina were baptized. It was tuanis (cool) to see them take this step. The baptismal service was very beautiful. Elder Rivera baptized Karen and I baptized Sebastian. Even though the water was cold, like always, they were very happy and their family members that are members(Xinia, marianella and Ana Gabriel) were too. The father and one of Karen´s friends went to the baptism to support her and they said it was very beautiful. We are going to start teaching the father this week. My companion and I passed our baptismal goal which was 2 since we had 3. The whole district had a total of 5 baptisms so we didn't meet our district goal of 7 but next month we are going to work hard to reach the new goal which is once again 7.
Its been raining like crazy around here. Its worse here because its colder than other parts. The other day the streets looked like raging rivers. One of those rivers flooded our dueñas house. The only part that wasn't full of water was our room. We helped Hermana Lijia unflood her house and then we went and helped a less active member named Elizabeth unflood her house as well.

We are teaching a couple that are making good progress and they went to church for the second time this week. Their names are Brun and Jasmine. Brun is from Haiti and Jasmine is from here. We have been teaching them for a while but because of their jobs we can only teach them on Sundays, once a week. We have taught them the majority of the lessions and Jasmine wants to be baptized but Brun isn't sure yet. But the last few weeks they have been reading a lot in the Book of Mormon and yesterday we watched "The Testaments" with them and they loved it. Brun has really been enjoying the lessons we have taught them and I think they will be baptized this month. We are also still teaching Cristobal, Luz and Margot. Even though Margot still has a lot of doubts each time that we start a lesson, by the end we have almost always answered and resolved her questions and doubts. We still have a lot of work to do with her but she is progressing little by little.

Today we had another district activity. We went to a place close to Paraiso called Orosi to see a Catholic church built in the 1700s and a museum there as well. When we got there we found out that the museum is closed on Mondays. Bad luck. We went into the church to beg the catholic father to let us go in for a few minutes but we had to wait for masss to end. We finally asked them but they wouldn´t let us. We tried to play soccer in the fields in front of the church but they kicked us out of there as well so we went to a souvenir store that come American members from Paraiso have there to ask what else there was to do there. They told us of another field close to another church so we went to look for it. We played for a little while on a teeter-totter and a slide and then we continued our journey. We went over a hanging bridge that was over a large river and we started to swing on it. After walking a lot we finally got to the fields. We played a lot of soccer and it was really fun. Finally, as in all district activities, we got drenched by the rain. To return to Cartago we had to catch 3 buses but we only had to pay for one of them. The first bus to us to another hanging bridge where cars could cross before but now the bridge is old and not very safe. When we got to the bridge we all crossed over, including the bus driver, and we got on another bus that took us to the bus which took us to Cartago. And here we are, still wet, in an internet cafe in front of the Basilica.

I heard that the US was doing really good in the world cup and had come from behind to win two games, but that this week they lost to Ghana so they're out. That really really stinks. Ghana kicked us out last world cup. Why do we lose to them. aaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh. anyway,oh well. i guess we'll just have to wait another four years (ill be 25) to see them lose again (probably to Ghana, quien siempre gana(that always wins).hhahahahahah).

Elder Tobler