I wonder if in 30 years, the people I taught will be talking about me

August 23, 2010

On Monday night us and the Hermanas (Sister Missionaries) had Family Home Evening at Carlos and Marielos house, and we made Balliadas (Honduras). They turned out okay, but Hna Vallecillo burned her arm a little bit. El martes enseñamos a la hermana de Hna. Mairena, Maritza. Estamos enseñando a ella y a su esposo Jerson, e hija Yaritza. Jerson es muy alcohólico, toma todo el día, todos los días. Es difícil enseñar allí porque el esta tomado, pero estamos tratando de ayudarles cambiar su vida. (On Tuesday we taught Mairena's Sister Maritza. We are teaching her and her husband Jerson and Yaritza their daughter. Jerson is an alcoholic. He drinks all day, everyday. It is hard to teach there because he is always drunk, but we are trying to help them change their lives.)

This week Jessica finally accepted a meta bautismal para Septiembre. (baptismal goal for September) Isa also surprised us this week and told us she wants to be baptized. She has a big smoking problem and drinks a lot of coffee, but she is determined to stop. We wrote out a plan of how she is going to beat her addictions, and we are going to write it out really big so she can see it everyday.

On Wednesday I went on divisions in Turrialba for some important citas (appointments) they had. On Thursday we had district meeting in Cartago. We focused on the topic “how to start lessons”. We read from Preach My Gospel, watched part of the new PMG DVD “The District 2”, and practiced what we learned. The district has been putting it in practice and its really helped. After district meeting we made Balliadas.

Also on Thursday I interviewed Jason, the Hnas investigator, who was going to be baptized yesterday. He passed the interview, and he was ready to be baptized but on Friday, he got home really late after school, and his mom punished him by putting off his baptism for another week. He is set to be baptized this next Sunday, as long as he doesn’t do anything else against his moms liking.

Yesterday we took 5 investigators to church. Jessica, Isa, Jorge, Jerson, and Yaritza. When we went to pick up Jerson he told us he wasn’t going to go because the effects of not drinking alcohol that day, were making him dizzy and he couldn’t walk to the church. We ran to the church and asked a member with a car to take us to pick him up. So we went and picked up Jerson and Yaritza up with the car and took them to church, but in the end Jerson had to leave early because he was feeling to sick and couldn’t take it. Not very many people came to church yesterday, the guy who plays the piano (Hno. Posas, who was in Moravia when I was there) wasn’t there, and the microphone wasn’t working very well, so it wasn’t the best day, but it was good. The Hermanas also brought two investigators to church, Ricardo and Manuel.

After church we went to Quircot, and taught Jorge. We had a long, but great lesson and Jorge agreed to be baptized this next week. Jorge is going to be baptized on Sunday morning along with the Hermans investigator Jason. He is a really cool guy.

After Jorge some of our citas failed us, but we contacted a family and we stopped by Jessica and Isa’s house to see how Isa was doing with fighting her addictions. She is drinking coffee and smoking less and less each day, and she is reading and praying as well. Today we are doing a fast with her so she can stop smoking and drinking coffee. I’m really impressed by how determined Isa seems, because it came out of nowhere.

Last night us and the Hermanas ate dinner at the Familia Morales (Lider Misional) house. It was really good food, and we had a good time. I shared a short message (D&C 128:19) at the end and they are going to have references ready for us this next week. They are a really cool family. I always love asking members how they found out about the gospel, because you get to hear some amazing stories. When its a family that have been members for many years, and they talk about the missionaries that taught them, it makes me wonder if in 30 years, the people I taught will be talking about me as well. *Ü*

Today for P'day we went to the church and played Ping Pong with Mainor (lider misional) and the Hermanas. We played Uno and ordered pizza as well. It was really fun.

The Cartago District baptismal goal for the month is 7. So far we only have 2, Brun and Jazmin from our area. At the beginning of this week it looked like the district was going to be able to pass the goal and 8 more people were going to be baptized this coming week (28th and 29th) making it 10 for the month. That would also mean that everyone in the district would have met their individual area baptismal goals as well. Unfortunately, the 3 people that Turrialba was going to baptize (Diana, Cassidy, and Journey) couldn’t come to church because there “stepfather” wouldn’t let them. He wouldn’t let their mom Patricia (who cant be baptized yet because she’s not married to the guy, and she hasn’t separated from him) goes to church either. Now Diana, Cassidy, and Journey can’t be baptized this week. There is still hope that they will meet their baptismal goal for the month, because we are going to go there on divisions this week and invite some of their other investigators who are ready to be baptized to take that step. So far we will still be able to meet the district goal because our extra baptism will in a way make up for Turrialbas loss, but not really. The important thing is I’m pretty sure that Diana, Cassidy, and Journey will be able to be baptized this next month, because they are a really great family.

Mom, don’t send me a birthday package. They’re too expensive. Save the money so you can spend it on me when I get back. I can buy candy and Pringles here, and its a lot cheaper than sending it.
Elder Tobler

Finding and losing lots of investigators

August 16, 2010
Yesterday Anghedon (Brun) and Eillen (Jazmin) were baptized. Their Baptism was before church and was very special. They were really nervous, but very excited as well. First my companion Elder Montoya had his first baptism, and baptized Jasmin. Then I baptized Brun. The water was cold, but the spirit was strong. There were a good number of members present as well as Jazmin’s dad and a couple of her friends. One of her friends loved the service and we might start teaching him. After the baptisms the sisters, my comp, and I sang “Divina Luz” and Brun shared his testimony. Brun shared how they had heard about the gospel. A woman named Gale, had worked at the same call center as Jazmin for a week, but then went to work somewhere else. During the week Gale was working with Jazmin, she told her about the Book of Mormon, and Jazmin became very interested. Gale told her that she would send her a Book of Mormon. Brun said that they expected the book to come in the mail, but instead it came in the hands of two young men with ties and placs. He shared that him and Jazmine had been married for 11 years, but that things had gotten so much better between them since they started going to church. He was really shocked and kinda embarrassed when the missionaries (that’s us) had come to wake him up to take him to church, and decided to go by himself from then on. He told everyone that although he never for one second thought he would be Mormon, but that he was really happy about their decision to be baptized. Its also really interesting that the other day when we were talking about Lehi’s Vision of the Tree of Life, Jazmin told us that she had had a dream just like it a couple months before.
Today was changes. In our district only Elder Whitlock had changes. His companion Elder Urbina is going to train and the new missionary comes tomorrow. It was really surprising that Turrialba didn’t have changes. It was also very possible for the Hermanas to have changes but they didn’t either. Elder Mitton and Elder Castillo are going home. The new AP is Elder Trost from Idaho, and our new ZL is Elder Centeno from Panama.
Jessica and Isa came to church yesterday. They still don’t feel ready for baptism though. Brun and Jazmin were confirmed and Brun received the Aaronic Priesthood right after church. Yesterday was mother’s day here in Costa Rica, so all the sacrament talks were centered on the importance of mothers. Happy Mothers day in Costa Rica mom! *Ü* We also served cake and soda to all the women in Relief Society.
These last couple weeks we’ve been applying the 8 points we learned in the Leadership Capacitation, and teaching it to the other missionaries in the district. We did divisions with Paraiso and Turrialba this week. I went to Paraiso on Wednesday and had some fun with Elder Whitlock there. We had some good lessons but the part of Paraiso that they are working in is still a complete mess. The streets are so muddy.
On Thursday morning we went to Turrialba for District Meeting. I gave a summary of the 8 points so we can start to apply them. We are going to focus on and practice one of those points at each district meeting, these next few weeks, so we can learn each point more in depth. After district meeting we made Pupusas (masa thing, filled with refried beans and cheese, and sometimes meet, and eaten with salsa). Pupusas are a typical food from El Salvador, and since Hermana Flores is from El Salvador we decided to learn how to make them as a district. It was fun, and although they didn’t turn out perfectly, they were pretty good, except for Hermana Vallecillo got sick later that day and threw up all the pupusas she had eaten. Its probably because she’s from Honduras and she used to eating Balliadas (Typical Hondurañean food which is a tortilla with eggs, meet, refried beans, and natilla (which they call mantequilla in Honduras, but its not butter, its actually the white cream liquidy thing that I cant remember what its called in english). I know how to make Balliadas as well, because I've had five Hondurañean comps.
After district meeting I stayed in Turrialba to do divisions there. I was with Elder Castro. We had some sweet lessons and we were able to put 4 baptismal goals with Patricia, Jessica, Cassidy, and Journey for the 28th of August. They are really awesome and we hope nothing goes wrong so they can be baptized.
These last couple weeks we’ve been finding and losing lots of investigators. We found Jennifer and had great lessons with her about the Plan of Salvation and The Restoration, and she agreed to be baptized if she got an answer, but this week she basically told us she didn’t want us to keep coming. She didn’t say it directly, but she made loads of excuses and kept saying “I don’t know”, so I asked her if she wanted us to keep coming and she said no. We also found a family named Eric and Maria and their neighbor Alex, whose wife left him. We found out that what they want is peace, and the reason they didn’t have peace is because they are drug addicts. We taught them about the Word of Wisdom in the first lesson because once we find out their problems and resolve them with the gospel, the rest of the lessons are perfect. We had a great lesson, and they told us they were going to go to church, leave their addictions, and be baptized. We told them we were going to help them. The problem is we were only able to find them at home once since then and although we went to pick them up three times during church, they were never there. Although William and Genori had started to progress again and promised to be baptized if they received an answer, they haven’t come to church yet. If they don’t show faith by coming to church they wont receive an answer so easily and they will never progress. Also our investigator Cristobal died this week. We don’t know how he died, but my comp went by his house while on divisions, and there was a bunch of people there and somebody told him it was because “macho” (Cristobal) died. He was 75 years old but seemed younger and in good health. We also committed one of Hna Xinia’s daughters Maria Jose, to be baptized on September 4, if she receives an answer, and committed her to actually do her part to receive an answer. We asked her what she wants in life and shared how the gospel can help her have what she wants. We went to our appointment with her this week and she failed us again. She’s done it a million times. I don’t know how to get her to understand the importance, but I guess she just a normal, rebellious, irresponsible, 14 year old. Oh well, well keep trying.
We have started to teach a Young Woman member named Pamela, who just started coming back to church, and her boyfriend Jorge, who isn’t a member. Jorge has come to church with Pamela and really likes it. We put a baptismal goal with him for the 28th of August. 
He is awesome, and understands really well. The only problem is that he actually lives in another city an hour and a half away, Escazu, and we can only teach him once a week. He comes here every weekend, and he is planning on moving here, but we still have to verify to see if he should get baptized here or in Escazu. We are also teaching Pamela’s friend Juliana, who agreed to be baptized on September 4, if she receives an answer by then.
Gracias a todos por escribirme. Paz.

I didn't even notice I was writing in spanish

August 9, 2010
Esta semana habia una capacitacion para lideres de la mision. Fue una capacitacion de tres dias, Martes, Miercoles, y Jueves. Cada dia estabamos en la iglesia de Los Yoses en San Jose desde las 8 AM hasta las 4PM recibiendo la capacitacion. En las tardes fuimos a nuestras areas para aplicar lo que aprendimos. Por tres dias estaba con Elder Sorensen en Cartago, mientras mi compañero Elder Montoya estaba en Orotina con el compa de E. Sorensen. La capacitacion fue increible. Aprendimos tantas cosas para mejorar nuestra enseñanza, y estoy seguro que si todos aplican las cosas que aprendimos Costa Rica va tener mucho mas exito. La mayoria de lo que aprendimos ha estado aqui todo el tiempo, en Predicad Mi Evangelio, pero no lo hemos aplicado tanto como deberiamos. Pero durante la capacitacion nosotros aprendimos ciertos puntos claves, los practicamos alli en la capacitacion, y en la noche lo pusimos en practica. Al hacer esto, se lograron milagros, y todos llegaron el proximo dia a contar como les fue y contar experiencias maravillosas que habian tenido. Muchos pusieron fechas y unos en la primera cita. Aunque nosotros no logramos poner fecha fija, si tuvimos lecciones muy poderosas al aplicar los puntos en Cartago. Una de estas experiencias fue con nuestra investigadora Jessica. Jessica y su suegra Isa son muy felices y un poco sarcasticas, y siempre estan bromiando, entonces cuando llegamos el Martes, tuvimos miedo de que iba a ser dificil mantener el espiritu en esa leccion. Pero al empesar testificando sobre porque estabamos alli y sobre como este evangelio podia bendecir y cambiar sus vidas, ellas se calmaron y prestaron mucha attencion, porque les hicimos entender cuan importante era nuestro mensaje para ellos. Al hacerles preguntas sobre que era lo que esperaban o querian sacar de nuestras visitas, nos pudimos dar cuenta de lo que ellas realmente estaban buscando y necesitaban. Asi podimos tener una leccion completamente enfocado en ellas y sus necesidades y asi el espiritu estaba presente muy fuertamente durante toda la leccion. Las desafiamos a ser bautizadas, y aun que no aceptaron una fecha specifica todavia, podiamos entender porque no se sentian listas y ya sabemos como ayudarles con los desafios que tienen y al fin ayudarles hacer convenios con Dios. Fue muy excelente los capacitaciones y ahora tengo que enseñar lo que aprendi a mis compañeros en el distrito y aplicarlo siempre en mi area para ayudar a las personas a venir a Cristo y lograr paz y felicidad.
Estos capacitaciones estan pasando en todos los misiones del mundo. La mision esta cambiando mucho y es muy exciting. Van a ver capacitaciones asi para los lideres, cada dos meses. Ahora las Conferencias de Zona y Entrevistas solo van a ser cada tres meses. Tambien los cambios van a ser los miercoles, y la semana de cambios el Pday va ser los miercoles tambien. Tambien los misioneros van a ir a casa los Jueves, entonces ahora voy a terminar el 23 de Diciembre.

This week there was a training for leaders of the mission. It was a training of three days, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Every day we were in the church of The Yoses in San Jose from 8 a.m. to 4PM receiving the training. In the evenings we went to our areas to apply what we learned. For three days I was with Elder Sorensen in Cartago, while my partner Elder Montoya was in 'Orotina' with Elder Sorensen's companion. The training was incredible. We learned so many things to improve our education, and I am sure that if we all apply the things that we learned, Costa Rica could have more success. The majority of what we learned has been here all the time, in Preach My Gospel, but we have not applied it as much as we should. During the training we learned certain points keys, practiced them there in the training, and at night we put it into practice. On having done this, miracles were achieved, and they all came next day to share all the wonderful experiences that they had had. Many set dates and some in the first appointment. Although we did not manage to set specific dates, we had very powerful lessons on having applied the points in Cartago. One of these experiences was with our investigator Jessica. Jessica and her mother-in-law Isa are very happy and a little sarcastic, and they are always making jokes, when we came on Tuesday, we were afraid that was going to be hard to maintain the spirit in this lesson. But to the start we testify on why we were there and how this gospel could bless and change their lives, they calmed down and were very attentive, because we made them understand how important was our message for them. On having ask questions on what they were waiting or wanted to gain from our visits, we could realize what they really were looking and needing. like that we could have a lesson completely focused in them and their needs and like that the spirit was present much stronger during the whole lesson. We challenge them to be baptized, and even though they did not set a specific date yet, we could understand that they were not feeling ready and now we can help them with the challenges that they have and finally to help them to do covenants with God. It was an excellent training and now I have to teach what I learned to my companions in the district and always apply it in my area to help the people to come to Christ and to achieve peace and happiness.
These trainings are happening in all the missions of the world. The mission is changing very much and is very exciting. There are going to be trainings like this for the leaders, every two months. Now the Zone Conferences and Interviews are going to be only every three months. Also the changes are going to be Wednesdays, and the week of changes /Pday will be Wednesdays also. Also the missionaries are returning home every Thursday, so I am going to end on December 23.

I'll write more about this week next week.
Elder Tobler
ps. I didn't even notice I was writing in spanish.

“La Virgen de Los Angeles”

August 2, 2010

This last week was the famous Romeria here in Cartago. Its a holiday where millions of people walk from all over the country (and even other parts of central america) to the Basilica here in Cartago to see “La Virgen de Los Angeles” (The Angel's Virgin). I’m not exactly sure about the history on this, but from what I've heard, supposedly many years ago some little girl found a black stone in the form of a virgin on the ground in Cartago and brought it home. The stone thing somehow went back to the same spot the girl found it, so the Catholics took it as a sign and decided to build a church on that same spot. I guess they tried to build the church 3 or 4 times, but it was destroyed by an earthquake every time. In the end they decided to build it farther East and today that church is the Basilica. The ruins of the previous attempt to build the church are still there in the center of Cartago and it is called “Las Ruinas”. Anyway the black stone (La Virgen de Los Angeles), also known as “La Negrita”, is know housed inside the Basilica. It, or “she”, can supposedly cure diseases and some people come crawling on their knees to see it. So all this last week people were coming to Cartago, and there were concerts, games, and lots of food. Unfortunately we couldn’t buy any of the yummy looking food, many of it from foreign countries (not Costa Rica) because it was the end of the month. (No money?) Although there was stuff all week long, the official Holiday is yesterday and today.

Yesterday thousands of people were walking through Cartago, to the Basilica. They closed one of the main streets to cars, and a constant river of people were walking down that street all morning long. We walked against the current on the way to church (Book of Mormon in hand) and walked with the current after. We came up with an idea to use the Romeria to our advantage. Familia Araya (Xinia, Karen, etc.) live on the street that the thousands of people were walking down, so we decided to set something up in front of their house. We made a poster with Alma 7:10 written out on it (About Mary and her being a precious and chosen vessel for the Son of God) and the Book of Mormon at the bottom. We grabbed a bunch of folletos (pamphlets) and posters to give out and we set it all up in front of the house. The idea was that it could catch people’s attention and maybe spark their interest in our message and that we could get some contacts or give out some posters free. The problem is that as soon as we got it all set up, the river of people flowing by slowly dried up, and only a few people here and there walked by. Familia Araya helped us and we still contacted a lot of families and gave away some folletos and posters but in the end my dream of baptizing millions of catholics was shattered. We found out later that the reason that all the people stopped walking by is that the city had changed the walking route to the street just south of us. What unbelievably bad luck I have sometimes. I am sorry, there is Always next year *Ü*

Anyway, tonight is going to be the last night of the Romeria. Tomorrow morning “La Negrita” will be moved over to the Cathedral, where she will reside for one month. In September she will be moved back to the Basilica again. That little black stone is always in the basilica, covered in a huge gold case. In back of the Basilica there is a replica of the negrita, and a “holy water” fountain as well. Some people come every morning to drink or wash themselves with the holy water and I think they even sell it, or at least bottles to take it home with you.

So today we went to my comps one month checkup. Whenever new missionaries come in, one month later they and their trainers meet with President to see how there first month in the field was. I never had my one month checkup because my trainer forgot about it. It was fun. We went up to a high mountain overlooking San Jose, and we got to see the whole city. It was sweet, and president asked us what it made us feel seeing the whole city from above. It made me see the potential this country has and made me think about all the people waiting and searching for the truth. After that we ate lunch at President’s house.

Although the Romeria was happening and the Catholics in the city were more active catholics, this last week we found some good new investigators. We have been trying to let the investigators talk more so we can see what there needs are and teach according to those needs. Its hard sometimes because some of our investigators talk a lot, but its really helped as well. Jennifer, William, and Jessica all agreed to be baptized if they receive an answer that this is the truth. Yesterday Brun and Jasmine didn't come to church because they were out of town, but Jessica, Eddy, Eddy’s wife, and Eddy’s daughter all came to church and liked it. Jessica got up in fast and testimony meeting and shared how she feels really good at church and called us her “Angels”. She’s not even a member yet. *Ü*

On Wednesday I went to Paraiso on divisions, and saw Ana and her family. They taught me how to play with the trompo (top with the string). The little kids in that family are really good at the trompo, and they can do some sweet tricks with it. I also saw Walter and Helen and Helen gave the Family Home Evening. Part of Paraiso is all dirt and mud right now because they are changing all the pipes in Cartago. That's why they have been shutting off the water sometimes.

My comp has been learning quickly and we can teach the lessons more together now. We wrote down every lessons basic points and practiced a lot so he feels more confident now. We gave Hna Lijia a blessing a couple weeks ago when she asked for it, because of her health problems. We also taught her son Bryan about the Plan of Salvation on Saturday. He really liked it and we’re going to keep teaching him. Oh, and I don't know if a said happy fathers day last month but if not then, Happy Fathers Day Dad.

Elder Tobler