Wednesday, December 25, 2013

December 23, 2013 Hunter's First Christmas in Guatemala

¡Hola MI Familia! 

Everything has been good down here this week.  I got to go the temple for the temple trip day we get to do twice a year and we got to see the new video in Spanish!! It was good.  I understood a good amount of it (which is just weird).  
Elder Toma and Elder Breinholt @ Guatemala Temple

We also confirmed my good friend Douglas this Sunday and the ward had a fun Christmas activity where they did dear Santa and had food. Down here for Christmas they eat what is called Tamalies and Punch and the punch is like a hot fruit drin.  It's pretty good but I will being eating a lot of that today and tomorrow haha.

For Christmas Eve we will be spending it with a couple of families in the ward and eat food and just hangout, watch a church movie and we get to stay out till 12:30 at night so it should be fun. I helped kill ducks for tamalies yesterday haha.  That was an interesting experience and today we will be eating it with a familie.

My mp3 players is a mess and doesn't really work so if you could send me a new one or less barrato one that would be good haha. . .  with the same music and more! por favor some Christmas music would be nice and also some more socks.  I'm already creating holes in mine that I have from just walking. 

Elder Toma and Elder Osuguera @ Guatemala Temple
So people have lots of fiestas and parties before Christmas and yesterday there was one where there was a hispanoe Santa Claus and a piñata and they did games like potato sack races and all kinds of things the kid inside me wanted to go dance with Santa and hit the piñata but all me and my companero could do was just talk with the people and watch. But apparently tomorrow it will just be a pandemonium of fireworks for over a hour straight so I can't wait for that.  Christmas is the biggest holiday for them here so I am excited.

I hope everyone has a good Christmas I will be sending everyone letters and some things that is my goal right now so be waiting for that I love you all and 

Tieneis un Feliz ¡¡¡¡¡¡Navidad!!!!   


Cone Amor 

Elder Toma

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

December 17, 2013 New companion

Dear Family, 

Elder Breinholt and Elder Toma
My first week with my [new] companion went really well.  I had to guide him and teach him everything about our area and start all the lessons and talk a lot more.   I felt like a trainer.  It was really weird.  He is a Gringo from Sandy, Utah.  His name is Elder Breinholt.   He has just dropped down from being zone leader for 8 months in Antigua which is a really really cool city in a crevice surrounded by mountains and volcanoes and is a really really old Catholic city.  It's really cool there.  But he dropped down to be my "step dad" and continue my training.  My first companion left me and became zone leader for Villa Hermosa which is in (the capital).  haha So I have pretty interesting "dads" it seems.

Elder Breinholt is really nice and he loves the people and knows how to show it and be funny and outgoing with them and gain their trust really fast so it's really interesting.  My two trainers are very very different and it seems that there are specific things that I am supposed to learn that I am noticing. But yes my baptism went through.  Hallelujah!! I have one down now.  His name is Douglas Mendez and he is 20 (future missionary).  
It went really well and we should be having three more this month so far and trying to get more. I should be getting the package this week.  This week should be fun we get to go to the temple and do and see Christmas activities.  

Elder Toma, Douglas Mendez and Elder Breinholt
Me and my companion went to the beach this week. It was really cool.  The waves are huge here! And it's crazy hot! And the sand is black because of the volcano ash.

Elder Toma and Mendez family
But yeah it's like 100 degrees here right now plus humidity so we are sweating here.  My companion just baptized a really cool interesting guy that is Jewish from Antigua and is actually part of the tribe of Levi and Judah.  He has lived just about everywhere and speaks a bunch of languages. 

We teach about 60 to 70 lessons a week.  It's a lot on the coast. I can actually understand a lot now and I talk a lot more so that has made me happier. I personally like teaching the Book of Mormon just because of how important and awesome it is and it's just my favorite.

If you could tell me how to teach and what makes a good teacher and things to do that makes it effective and gain the trust of those you teach so they understand and like to hear and listen to you and have their attention that would be nice.  I'm always continuing to adapt and change. 





Love,

Elder Toma

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

December 10, 2013 First transfers


Dear Family, 
 
I almost forgot my birthday to be honest my companion reminded me but just saying happy birthday and stuff.   I dont really feel 19, I feel way older so its werid right now for me. We didn't do anything special just went out and worked.

We have had zero baptisms. The one we werre supposed to have, had to make it next week so his dad could be there.  So this Sunday it should be happing (I know it will happen he's pillas). We also should be haveing his brother hopefully baptized the 22 of December and 2 other investigators as well that are really good. The one being baptized this week is called Douglas Mendez and his brother is Alex and the other two is a mom and her son Carolina and Dieago Gonzalez so we're hoping for this.  We might be on fire this week. I hope so.

But I have some news...So I guess my DAD (my Trainer) is leaving me tommorrow and I will be staying here in Santa Barbara and receiving a new trainer to finish me off. So we will be having changes. This makes me a little nervous because this is extremely rare.  It doesnt happen when your trainer leaves you in your first area half way from your training and you receive a new one in that area. So that means I am going to have to guide and teach for a while until my trainer gets the hang of it in my area and knows the people. That makes me a bit nervous but I am excited to see who it will be.

So that's what will be happening tommorrow so this week and the next should be intresting. We also saw the Christmas devotional (in Spanish) with English subtitles!!! It was really good I enjoyed it and we had a lot of investigators come and watch it.

So that was most of my week I think. Its hard to remember things because you do so much everyday and it just molds into one event.

Love,
Elder Toma

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

December 3, 2013


Dear Family, 

Things down here have been great but also tough too, but that's how it seems to go. 
We have a lady that cleans our cloths for us and also irons them.  Most people clean by using a rock thing and soap and then hang drying.    When I say most,  I mean all.   I don't know how she does it but she makes all my cloths look brand new it's crazy!  They are literally perfect.   She somehow restores all of the original creases in my white shirts.  I don't know how she does it but I am impressed that she does all that with a rock and soap.  But everything else down here is great.   Thanks for all of the support it really helps especially when you have those rough days where you just want to sleep.  Which is like every day.  I'm tired constantly ha ha, but I am enjoying it.

No we don't have a maid that cooks for us and no we don't have a stove.  I sent pictures of what our apartment thing looks like.   All we have is a cooker and a fridge.   We have inactive members that live below us.  They are really nice and the own a bakery.   They give us bread all the time and the bread here is amazing definitely the best bread I have had. 

And ha ha no we don't have hot water, absolutely zero.  It's  freezing cold always and it only works at certain times in the day so sometimes I don't get to take a shower.   I have to get a bucket and dump water on myself.   We don't have time to eat a lot we just eat what we can.  I've lost quite a bit of weight nothing  fits and my belts are useless.    It's whatever we walk so much I don't think anything could get me to keep weight on.

 I have seen and have killed a couple of chickens and turkeys myself.  They all do it down here.  You will just see a bunch of random chickens, pigs and cows just walking around in the streets and dogs. In my town they do a huge festival for Christmas.  It's more like a fair.    All they do is light off huge fireworks all day and literally all night.  It gets a little annoying at night because they are super loud and right above your head it's something else. 

I've lost all sense of time its weird that its already been 6 weeks and changes come next week.  I'm already half way through my training now Whoo hoo!!  It's weird that it's my birthday this week.  No one down here believes I am 18.   They think I'm like 30.   I don't feel like I'm 18 either. I'm still losing weight but I think it will level off here soon.   I'm pretty skinny now ha ha.  Even my zone leader noticed I have lost even more weight.   It just means I'm working hard and sweating everything off.  

It is ridiculously humid down here it seems strange that its winter were you are.    Yes the shower and sink and toilet is very rustic and everything else.  

This week though we should be having 3 baptisms!  I'm very excited.  I'm ready for my first baptism.  We have been working very hard with the inactive members and we had a lot of people at church this Sunday so we are excited!  It is hard in my area. 

 This week has been up and down.  We did service for some members that we are reactivating and we went into the jungle and started cutting trees and branches with machetes so they will have fire wood to cook and keep warm. That's how they do it here.   We spent a good amount of time doing that and I cut 3 different huge trees (with a machete).   That's not easy and we had to carry them back, so my companion had one and I had the largest one.   I was with my companion and three kids and their mom.  This jungle has mountains so we blaze through the mountain and through jungle and corn mazes.  They have hills just covered in corn for their tortillas .   The tree I carried weighed almost 200 pounds.  They were not small or light and I had to carry it through mountains and jungles.  It was ridiculous because  it was also very hot that day. 

It was hard work but it is so gorgeous here.   It's hard to describe.   It is like  something out of a movie.  We also had a Zone P-day and that was fun.    We had groups that were from the same country and they had to make  food from their country.    The gringos made hot dogs and brownies which is super rare.   My Zone leader who has been out for 20 months hasn't had brownies since the CCM.  It  was a treat.   We also had a lot of papa fritas (fried bananas)  It was a fun thing and we pigged out so hard.    Overall it has been a  good week.   Santa Barbara will be having there festival this week.  I will tell you how that went next week.    It seems really big with all kinds of things to do.

 

Love Elder Toma

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

November 26, 2013 Santa Barbara

Hey Family, 

Elder Toma's CCM (MTC) District
Everything down here has been good. I actually feel like my Spanish is improving especially my accent!
Elder Toma and CCM Companion
We had a conference specifically for Central America where Elder Henry B  Eyring and Elder Richard G Scott gave talks.  I didn't understand much because Elder Scott talked in Spanish and they dubbed President Eyring's voice with Spanish but it was good.

We didn't have a baptism last week because Karen was sick the whole week, so we moved it to this week.  Something always happens. We are still working on the investigators we have and some we can tell are really close and should be getting baptized here really soon. The problem we have in our ward is there are not many priesthood holders.  Most members here are women so we are trying to focus on men right now and get the men that are baptized to receive the priesthood.  It's very important.

This P Day we played football (soccer) with some of the members and an investigator we have. I still don't like football and I never will at all, but it was good.  I actually scored and I was actually somehow good at being goalie.

Apartment in Santa Barbara
I won't be able to receive letters or packages until the next change or next zone meeting and I don't know if I'm still losing weight.   I think so. This definitely is the skinniest I think I have ever been. I'm curious to see how much I weigh.

Apartment in Santa Barbara
I can't believe that it's already been almost 6 weeks and we will be having another change next week and I could possibly be somewhere else with a new trainer. Time flies by so fast.  I have definitely seen the faults that I do have and the weaknesses but I have also seen how I have changed and improved in some areas. I still have a lot to change and improve but I am trying to be patient with it and just work hard. 


 Love,

Elder Toma 


Apartment in Santa Barbara

View of volcano from Santa Barbara

Thursday, November 21, 2013

November 19, 2013

Dear Family, 

Everything down here is going well. We should be having some baptisms this week! My very first. Hopefully it pulls through. We did not hear about the typhoon; it's almost like we are in a bubble. We don't really know what goes on around us, simply what we are doing and supposed to do. I'll be sending you pictures next week of  my area hopefully some baptisms and just things down here. I didn't realize how big Santa Barbara is until this week we started going to different areas for certain people and things and its huge! And very pretty.  There are some parts where you  just think you are in the middle of the jungle, completely isolated. And I didn't notice probably because we walk so fast and just never stop to look around.  There are 4 volcanoes where I am and one is in my area. I'll try to get a picture of it.  It's huge!

But we have a little girl that should be getting baptized.  Her Mother is a recent convert but she never goes to church.  Her name is Karen Perez she is 10 I believe. We also have another Sister named Sidni Valasques.  She and her sister are scheduled to be baptized this week but they aren't married so we don't know if it is going to happen this week but she is progressing very well and has gone to church with us twice now and she accepts all of our invitations, and just is a very humble person that I can tell wants to be with her family forever and know her Savior. It's just convincing her husband to marry that's the problem right now.  It's just the culture down here not to be married because its just a hassle and they think it's not important.

Everything else is fine.  The Spanish is so so.  It's improving but in a really slow rate at least to me.  My President said that this week and next week is apparently very hard on the new missionaries for just some reason in either feeling they aren't improving or just other reasons so I'm getting ready to get hit by that and I just hope I have hope and faith that I can push through and get on the other side where things will start rolling. But time flies already incredibly fast I felt I just wrote yesterday and I only have 2 more weeks and then I possibly might be somewhere else with a new trainer. It's crazy you really do if you work hard lose a sense of time. 
But I enjoy hearing about what is going on even if it is some bad news like our country. 

Haha I like the photo (cartoon you sent) but here in Guatemala it is not the money they don't want to give up its the Coffee! Turns out Guatemala is the capital of the world for Coffee and its apparently really good here. I also heard the chocolate here is amazing to so I'm trying to find that one out.
But Spanish is coming a little.  I never realized how complicated grammar can be especially when it's in a different language and goes completely against what you were taught. I think that's what is getting me right now.

Haha I never realized how good the CCM treats you until now.  'Im grateful to be able to go to the Guatemala CCM I think it helped me a lot and prepared me more than the MTC could have even though the CCM treats you like your babies and they feed you well they give you everything like Ice cream and cookies and even a snack time for everyone and all that.  It's like the nursery of the Mission  which I think is why it's so hard on new missionaries from the beginning.

I'm really happy I was able to get to my actual mission and start learning the language. I love my mission President.  He expects a lot and is very strict but that's because he wants the most we can give and try to be the best we can be. Turns out our mission the Guatemala Central Mission is #1 in all of Central America and South for exact obedience and being trust worthy and all the missionaries doing what they are supposed to. And we are #2 in all of Central America for baptisms and #1 in Guatemala. It goes to show you what we get for trying our hardest and try and follow all of the rules and the blessings that come. My interview was just the regular 3 month personal interview of just seeing how you are and what's up. My district consists of me, my companion and 2 other Elders and 2 hermanas. But our zone is pretty large. And yes I have met quit a good amount of other missionaries from the mission and they all tell me how it's rough from the beginning and that you just sound stupid from the beginning but your able to handle yourself by the third transfer and understand everything.

I think when you realize why you are here and who called you and has made so many promises to you in the scriptures new and old you really start to change and have faith which I find is never enough but enough for me to act which is all we ever really need to do and the rest comes. When I first started I hated contacting because the language is a hindrance but we are here because our objective is Invitar a las personas a venier a Cristo al aydarlas a que reciban evangelio restaurado mediante la fe en Jesucristo y su expiacion, el arrepentimiento, el bautismo, la recepcion del don del Espiritu Santo y el perseverar hasta el fin. I and everyone else on a mission is here to invite all people to receive Jesus Christ's true gospel and be baptized with the true authority given to Joseph Smith by the Apostles of old. Its hard here because many are Catholic or Evangelic but the people that are ready understand and hear. I have been studying the Bible a lot because of that problem with the other religions and them feeling that they are content and they don't need anymore or the fact they may not believe there religion is right but they don't want to change. And I notice a pattern with all the Prophets and Apostles and all the servants of Christ in the Bible and Book of Mormon they all have more bad days then good. And they all go through more hard situations and things than anybody else has to. Now the question is why is that why would people that follow Christ and doing so much good be the ones that get hurt and go through the most hardships. And it's because they can handle it and we have trials to grow and become more. I notice Paul would actually be happy to go out and have to deal with that and he almost died a couple of times and the reason he was happy is because he knew what he would get out of it here and later on after he is dead 

Love, 

Elder Toma

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Week 2 in Santa Barbara November 13, 2013


 I finally received the care package and I'm definitely going to eat it tonight. . . all of it!  I am constantly hungry all the time. And yes I have lost weight.  None of my pants really fit me and I need to make more holes in my belt because they're too big ha ha. The people that feed us feed us well but the thing is everything here is pretty lean and lots of tortillas and vegetables so I just shed it off from simply walking really fast even though a lot of people here are overweight which I don't get.  

They don't really celebrate Christmas down here though so I don't know about that.  (He is referring to sending money for food baskets)  

Some of our investigators are coming along and we should have 3 baptisms next week.  It is difficult out here because of the culture.  People are very relaxed about things.  They care about God as well.  For some of our investigators its hard because they want to be baptized but they have to be married and the husbands don't want to be married too.  It's all a challenge.

It still rains a lot I don't know why?  My shoes are fine I switch them up daily so they all last longer.

And actually my companion is not that small.  He's like 5' 10"  but everyone else is short ha ha.  We go around a lot in these taxi things that are more like three-wheelers with aired backs.  I'll  have to take pics.  I forgot my camera to download the pictures I have so I will be sure to do that next week.   We also rode around on a  van bus, but there was no room inside so my companion and I and three little Guatemalans hung onto these bars on the outside of the bus.  It was really fun but scary too because we almost would hit trees and other things and the roads here are terrible.

It definitely was a shock when I first arrived with everything, but I'm starting to get my footing. I definitely agree with the opening your mouth and simply speaking.  My language has improved and I know it will continue to improve as long as I am diligent even when I feel like it isn't. I teach full lessons with my companion now and it can be intimidating but after awhile you learn what to say and it becomes much easier.

My companion likes to push me though.  He always tries to make me walk faster and say more when we're in lessons and it's my turn and I ask him questions or how to say something he just looks away and doesn't say anything and makes me figure it out. At first I did not like that at all and it would frustrate me, but I found that I would be able to figure it out on my own and I didn't need his permission or approval for certain things.  He helps if I said something wrong grammatically but he really leaves me to it.

But everything else is good we teach and find people every day.   We talked to over 300 people in 1 day this week!  It's crazy that's the most my companion said he has ever done. Tell me how everyone is and what's going on out there? 

I had my first interview with my [Mission] President and he started asking me questions about why I got the companion I did or why I was sent to where I am. And I answered them all and realized how inspired it really is. And he told me part of the reason I got such a good companion is probably because I will have those bad ones that I will have to pick up and help and that I will need to be a good example to others in the future because I am learning how it's supposed to be the whole time. And  how I need to be the whole time on my mission.

But tell me what's going on at home I think about you guys sometimes but I also try not to because I am truly trying not to remember who I am and more on what I am trying to be and do and why I am here.

 

Love,
 Elder Toma

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

November 5, 2013 First email from the field


November 5, 2013

Hola family, 

It feels like it has been a long time since I have talked or heard from you. I've been incredibly busy these couple of days.  So I have been out in the mission field for about 6 days now.  My first area is a place called Santa Barbara it's about a hour from the coast and its very hot!   It reminds me a lot of like what Hawaii or Tonga would look like.  It's very tropical and pretty.   The houses are. . . interesting. My trainers name is Elder Osegera.  He is from Honduras and he can speak a bit of English, so I've been teaching him. He is very hard working and walks incredibly fast!  All of the people laugh because they see me trying to catch up to him and start running while he is walking.  My Mission President expects us all to move incredibly fast with a purpose and to be perfect in everything we do especially with rules.  I feel very blessed for the trainer I have.   He is very kind and has a sense of humor,  but he is also loyal,  hard working and wants to baptize as much as he can.  My first week here was. . . very hard. People tell you missions are hard at times but they don't really explain why, especially when you have to serve in a foreign country.   It's very hard to adjust and try to adapt to your surroundings.  My first few days were definitely the hardest.   I just felt completely useless and not able to understand or say a thing. I came out of the CCM thinking that my Spanish was pretty good and that I should be able to be fine,  but the first day was definitely a reality check and I won't lie, it's hard.   I was very unsure of myself and I was very depressed because I felt useless and my companion was doing everything.  But that night I talked to him about it and he said some things to me that helped a lot.  I am grateful for my trainer.  The mission president also told me that everyone is like this and that it will get better.   Also my Zone leader talked to me and told me how his first few days were horrible,  but you just have to make a fool out of yourself and talk to everyone.  So, it sounds like everyone has to go through this and that does give me hope.  For the past few days it has been getting better,  though  we have no time for  language study.   Dad if you could help me know how to make my language better and how to study it would help a lot.  We contact here A LOT,  especially my companion and I because he loves to do it.  So we talk to a lot of people out in the streets and everywhere we go and that has helps my Spanish to grow.   The past couple of days have gotten better I actually got some complements on my Spanish saying that its better then the last companion he taught and that it is pretty good for someone that has only been here for 6 weeks.   I am slowly able to pick out what people say,  so that was encouraging. 
Picture of Santa Barbara, Guatemala from Google

We teach a lot of people and we should be having a couple of baptisms in a week or so.  There's about 80 members here.  There's also a lot of Evangelist and CATHOLICS and they all have silly excuse for not wanting us to teach them but that's how it goes. 

The culture is definitely different here. The  food here is okay.   There are no stores where we are so they have little snack bars and small stores that sell some stuff.   If we want certain things we have to go to another town to get them.  We pay some people to feed us or do our laundry.   Our apartment is ..not terrible ha ha,  but it isn't exactly fancy either.  The showers don't get hot, it's only cold, so I hate showers especially in the morning.  

I am beginning  to teach with my companion.  For some reason it feels harder to teach then it did at the CCM but I am trying.  Time goes by fast.  I hope we can find more time to study because I want to be able to actually understand and teach.  I hope that comes,  so I can really start working. 

 Sincerely,  Elder Toma

P.S. Forgot to say I have not received my care package apparently it can take 6 weeks to get here and we only  get our letters and care packages every transfer meeting, which means every 6 weeks.   This is not great but I can email every week and I can send letters.  My President pretty much told us that it is going to be hard and that Guatemala is one of the most successful mission.    We also work the hardest,  with a sense of purpose.   This means we work fast and walk fast and follow all of the rules with exactness.  There are interesting animals here ha ha  and things smell interesting too. . .  People live in hut-like  things or in cement apartments,  but they all have metal roofs so when it rains it is so hard to hear.   A lot of people don't even have electricity so that is interesting.  There are a lot of just random dogs and chickens and cows and all kinds of things that just wander around everywhere.  I also saw my first chicken get its head chopped off. There' s a lot of sugar cane fields and all kinds of fruit trees everywhere. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

A letter from President Brough, President of the Guatemala City Central Mission


November 4, 2013

Family of Elder Hunter Michael Toma,

Dear Family:

Please enjoy this photograph of Elder Toma, whom we had the joy of welcoming into our mission on October 30th , 2013.  We truly appreciate your efforts in preparing him according to the standards of the Lord now that the bar has been raised for missionaries entering the field of labor in Guatemala and everywhere in the world.

We require our elders and sisters to write home weekly.  We would encourage you to do the same, as evidence of your support for his labors in this part of the Lord´s vineyard.  It is important to encourage continuous spiritual progress, as we guide Elder Toma to become a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ, so that he will know his doctrine and delight in teaching it.

Elder Toma will write you by email every week. Most of the time they will write on Tuesday but sometimes, if we have another meeting, they will write you as soon as possible.

Along with your missionary, we pray for your family´s safety and protection. Again, we will strive to teach and protect Elder Toma, so that he can have a wonderful mission serving the Lord Jesus Christ in Guatemala.

 Yours Faithfully,

 M. Joseph Brough  

Mission President

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Week 5 October 22, 2013


 October 22, 2013

First Guatemala is great it is pretty humid but I'm used to it from Virginia but others are having a hard time. It rains constantly here and the rain here is a lot and hard.  It's like the hardest rain we ever would get in Virginia and the people here think that's absolutely nothing. You see the poverty all around you even in the city which has more than half the population in it. And you definitely see the classes here from the poor and the wealthy.

In the CCM we study a lot! Whether it be gospel and teaching to the  language.  It was like school but only on a few subjects. We do teach people though every night in complete Spanish. It's a bit tiring and I'm definitely ready to get out there and do the real thing instead of sitting and reading about others doing it.

Last week we took a field trip to a map that is 99% accurate.  It really got me excited for my mission because I could really see what it is going to be like and look like.  It's all in the mountains except for the coast and we have the most volcanoes in our mission so that really excites me. I'll send you pictures when I can and when I get out on the mission I'll start sending letters to.

We also went to a market that had tons and tons of venders of just everything you can think of. I started to bargain with the venders to get everything as cheap as I can and I ended up getting everything for half off or a bundle package and pretty much getting something for free. It's definitely different here.  Me and my companion also met a guy you was at the market who seemed like he needed help.  We talked with him and we ended up giving him a Book of Mormon. One thing that is different here is that people will call you angels and that's what this man did to me and my companion.  He thanked u.  We told him to try to find a church near where he lives (if he even has a home) and that they will help him and he kept telling us that God sent us to him. It definitely feels good when you bring them closer to their Father and truly help them.

 I'm beginning to notice now it's getting harder to talk in English and especially writing and spelling so I'm sorry for that. Me and my companion went street contacting a couple days ago and it was SUPER hard.  It was hard to understand the people and nobody wanted to listen so that definitely humbled me and made me realize I still have a lot to learn.

 It's funny when you and Dad send me these scriptures because every time it's something I have studied recently or in the past.  It's crazy now that i think about it how much you get familiar with the scriptures and know where everything is. But everything is well here were on our last week and I think everyone in my district is ready to get out of here. We went to the temple really early this morning but it was good.   I'll miss being able to go every week to the temple. I met someone that I met at the CCM he was one of the first guys to leave when I got there and it was cool to see him again and ask him how it's been and see what it's like to be out for about a month now. He did tell me that there are a lot of missionaries here in Guatemala that do not follow the rules and get in trouble. And he said because of that it is hard. And that sometimes people get trainers that are one of those missionaries which they call (Apostales) missionaries and that makes me nervous.  I hope I get a trainer that works hard and is good.  But I can't wait to hear from you soon and see  how everything is going.

 Also find out if you can get me Sam's email and Scott's as well and also McCarthy's and AJ's or any of the cousins.

But we also heard a devotional from Elder Bednar who has to be one of the best apostles out there. He talked on how do we know if we are feeling the Spirit or we are being guided by it or if it is just us which is a great question because I know I ask that all the time and always question myself or wait or expect to feel some amazing thing. And I was a little surprised to what his answer was. His answer was that it doesn't matter. Just don't even worry about it. The Spirit guides the people that act and are not acted upon and will guide you when you are  moving not sitting. And that is what we needed to be worried about is just always being worthy to have the Spirit in our lives and show faith because that is when we will be used not when we are just sitting there waiting to feel something or being told to go to something. When we are prompted by the Spirit it can be something as simple as feeling uneasy or having something on your mind. The reality is there is no where that it says the Spirit is supposed to be some huge thing like fireworks. It's quite humble and subtle most of the time. We have to prove and show that we are willing to do whatever we are prompted to say or  act if we want to gain the trust of being prompted to do more or feel more. And even then it will not be a huge rush of energy going through you. It shouldn't have to be. And that is something that I will try to always explain to my investigators so that they can take their faith and go forward and after showing their faith receiving the power of confirmation that comes and the blessings and Spirit. Missionaries always want to feel the Spirit and have it with them constantly which makes it hard and discouraging at times. But it's important to understand that we need to act and do first always then the Spirit comes when you need it the most and for that time.

Love

Elder Toma

Monday, October 14, 2013

Week 4 October 14, 2013


It has been good here and I have made friends with just about everyone (except the girls) avoid at all costs!
 
As far as care packages go, send anything especially beef jerky! They don't have that here.  You know what I love and like to eat.

I'm excited to leave the CCM.  It's sad to say goodbye to everyone you meet here but I'm ready to work and go out there and have an adventure. Guatemala is truly an amazing place. It's just so real when you see the ruins and see the cutlure and know that this is where the people of Nephi and the prophets were and lived. I love to hear from you keep me posted on the outside world. 
 
It has been crazy here just trying to learn as much as I can before leaving and go out there. . . only 2 weeks left! time flies so quickly here but I enjoy it. Missionaries leave on Tuesday mornings and new ones arrive Wednesday as well.  It is sad to see people go but I'm read to go as well. My companion is in the same mission as me so I get to be with him for a little while longer but it will be sad to say good bye we have gotten close. Sorry this is so short I haven't had enough time to write to everyone. I'll try and respond to you next week ugggghhh.
Love Elder Toma

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Week 3 October 6, 2013

Well I've already lost 15 pounds here ha ha and they feed us pretty well too. But the CCM has been very good.  It's crazy that we only have two weeks left.  Time flies here!

CCM September 2013 Sisters
It's funny how when you're on a mission you become obsessed with things you didn't care as much for at home. All of us were so excited for General Conference.  My favorite talk definitely had to be President Uchdorf's  second talk. I also enjoyed Elder Holland's talk.  He's my favorite. When one of the seventy talked about Guatemala we all cheered haha. Tell Kinze to email me.  I would like to hear from her.

CCM September 2013 Elders
I made a meta(goal) that I would speak only in Spanish from now on so it's getting harder to write and talk in English haha.  The gift of tongues is a real thing and excuse my spelling. It's hard to spell now too. I've been having a lot of personal revelation and answers to prayers that I have never experienced before. We get to go to the Temple every Tuesday and I really enjoy it. We got to go to Walmart last week for a field trip.  It's sad how excited we were for that but it was good. It's weird how we feel like we're in a bubble somehow especially when we go on travels like that and escape that bubble I can't wait to get out there and have a adventure in my mission.

CCM District September 2013
Me and my companion crush everyone else at basketball  and all the new people come and try and challenge us.  We're still undefeated (it's the only game people play here, that or soccer)
Haha for some reason everyone decided to have arm wrestling competition and there are big Tongans an Samoans here. Somehow, in spite of me losing muscle and weight I'm the current champion of arm wrestling with right and left arms. Everything is good just keeping trying to push forward and get better I can't wait to hear from you again tell me how the Broncos and Ravens are doing and our Country.

I prefer both emails and letters, so what is ever more convenient for everyone else.   I do like letters though. And with that you don't need to put Jesus pictures on the letters.  All they have to do is write Elder Toma on it and people know not to mess with it. And The Dear Elder works by going on a www.dearelder.com.  Find my mission and write the letter.  They then print it off and give it to me. Feel free also to send me pictures of everything. I would like to see what's going on and what everything looks like and funny things to get a laugh. I'll try to send pictures when I get my camera back and am out there. 

Things are going well but the whole roller coaster thing is no joke.   It seems to be like that for everyone and you doubt yourself a lot especially when it comes to having to teach in a different language and you want to say something but you can't because you don't know how to.  It's frustrating.  And always wanting to feel the Spirit very strong but having to realize that's not how it is;  but wanting it anyways

I'm not very nostalgico (homesick) but I do miss everyone and things so tell people to send photos and care packages! Can't wait to hear from you all



Love,

Elder Toma

Monday, September 30, 2013

Week 2 September 30, 2013


Dear family,

Well where to begin with this letter?  This week has had its ups and downs. And I won't lie, there has been times where I felt like I should just go home and that would be easier. But everyone feels that way here at some point usually in the first two weeks. I find everyone has their challenges and personal struggles as well as personal discomforts and lack of confidence. I strive everyday that the Lord will make His yoke easy and my burdens light. The food here is pretty good with LOTS of  potatoes, eggs and beans, but everyone ends up sick.  I think it's because none of us is used to the food.  It's pretty bad.

They are doing lots of renovations here, updating things and what not.  We get to move up to the third floor which has brand new things and bathrooms and showers that are so nice.  We are all super excited especially because our old bathroom had so many problems.  You don't even want to know, especially when over 60 guys have to use it.  It's horrible.

The weeks go by super fast but the days go by super slow.  It is funny how Sunday ends up being the best day other than P-day because we just go to meetings and relax.  I'm constantly tired and just want to crash. All of us are constantly tired.

Well we have been teaching this investigator for about a week and a half and in that time period we taught him in Spanish and English and I was prompted to bare my testimony and when I did I invited  him to baptized and he said he would. Well I found out that we won't be able to teach him anymore because he really is already a member and he is our second teacher. I was somewhat disappointed. My companion was happy because he didn't want to feel like he ruined this guys life. But I understand why they do that and make you believe he is real so you can learn better and for them to tell you what you need to improve on.

To answer the dry cleaning thing, no, my mission is not in the city so I  will not have anything comfortable like that at all and we aren't allowed to just go where we please. It is incredibly dangerous here and that's not an exaggeration. In my last email I told you we have body guards that follow us around with shot guns and semi automatics. It's insane here but I'm super excited. Unfortunately there have been problems here. I believe that Polo watch you gave me has been stolen.

Elder Bednar did a talk on worthiness and how we must already be on a side and choose who to follow. We can't just expect to be able to go out and teach people to repent and to follow the commandments and be examples if we don't do it ourselves.  Our tongues will be tied and the words will be choked in our mouths and the Spirit will not be with you.  The Spirit is the true  and ultimate teacher. And then you have already failed your companions and your investigators and truly yourself. Which is why it is so important, so necessary for us to always be worthy from the beginning not trying to play catch up. I felt unsure when I heard that message am I truly worthy? Am I truly feeling the Spirit? It made me nervous and scared  I just sat there and thought for awhile  and I wanted to know for myself. I prayed hard. I cried unto the Lord that I may know He is real that He is there and that if He is really there, do I have the privilege of carrying His name.  I can testify I received an answer and that if you truly desire an answer, you can receive it.

Send me everyone's emails and addresses through a letter not email.  That's dangerous.  I'll try to start writing letters soon.  Oh yeah, they also have this thing called "dear elder" which lets you send letters super fast. But I'll talk to you soon.  This is definitely not enough time to write everyone.  I'll definitely try to just do letters for more personal and detailed things.

Love,

Elder Toma

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Hunter's first letter from Guatemala


Hola Familia!,

It feels like it has already been a very long time since I have seen everyone. There is already quite a bit of stuff I got to tell you. So I'll start from when I got off the plane in Guatemala because the moment I got off my adventure was already beginning.  Because I arrived a day late  I arrived all by myself.  I got to fly first class which was awesome but I didn't get too much sleep.  So when I arrived all by myself obviously everything was in Spanish so pretty much I was already confused.  I just tried to follow people to the baggage. Luckily  they are not even strict with passports they just smiled and let me through no questions asked thank goodness!  So I was able to find my baggage pretty fine, but  when I began to get them off this little Spanish man came up to me and began to grab my bags.  Obviously I was really confused and couldn't understand a single word he was saying he just kept rambling on in Spanish and trying to take my bags well I begin to understand that he wants to help me and carry my bags for me (which I shouldn't have let him). But I didn't know how to tell him no!  So I said ok fine. So this little guy is carrying my two big HUGE BAGs and I'm just walking along next to him carrying my little carry on and side bag. Well he takes me outside and the first thing he kept saying is tip tip tip. That's when I realized because I was wearing a suit this guy thought I was rich. So I gave the guy five bucks (which I found out later is a lot of money) and just left him.  I was able to find a guy that was supposed to take me to the MTC but I didn't know it was  called the CCM, that caught me off guard.  As we were heading to his car the guy could barely speak English and his car looked like it had been rolled over.... His windshield had huge cracks and big holes in it and when he began to drive the whole car shook. I didn't even know if we  were going to make it or not to the CCM.  The people here in Guatemala are the craziest drivers I have ever seen! While we were driving a guy on a motorcycle  zoomed right to our side and in-between us and another car and people don't stop if you try to cross the street so it's crazy scary. But I arrived at the CCM safely. And when I arrived obviously I was a day late.  I just went straight to class.  I meet my companion his name is Elder Wickhimshire.   He is 22 years old and is a convert to the church.   He joined about 1 year ago. Elder Wickhimshire is  from Utah which includes about  2/3 of the North Americans that are here.  On the first day  they got me doing everything. They offered to let me take a nap but I told them no. It felt  like it had been four days already but every time I looked at my watch it only said 12:00.   I had never felt so tired before. The Presidents name is Nikolayson.   I got to talk with him for awhile he is a real nice guy.  So that was my first day.

For the past week it has been STUDY STUDY and STUDY.   Our whole day is just filled with things to do from studying espanol,  to studying the gospel,  to practicing teaching lessons.  Well they force missionaries to get a haircut here I don't know why and it doesn't matter how short they make you do it. Well I told the guy just cut it a little bit cause I just had a haircut.  I don't know why but he cuts every guys hair crazy short like he shaves it off,  and he cuts everyone in the process or gives them bald spots.   I HAVE TWO in the front so I have no hair anymore....(I wanted to cry) Its whatever though it grows back. I guess that's the culture out here but I'm not letting my hair get cut that short again. Most missionaries that are white are going to t Guatemala rather than other Central American countries.  There's only four of us here that are City Central because  they just shipped out a bunch there a week ago. There's a lot of hispanos going everywhere and from everywhere. There is defiantly more hispanos then white people, especially out in the mission field  .  There is three hermanas (sisters) in my district which is only  7 people in total.   It's really small for a district!. But its fine I talk to everyone in the CCM.  I already made friends with all the North Americans and a lot of the Hispanos. MY Spanish is coming along very well.  I can truly testify of the gift of tongues.  I can already have conversations with any of the hispanos and I make jokes with them all the time.  They are  all pretty funny.  Guatemala though is not a joke there is a lot of poverty, more then I even expected.  The city which is supposed to be the nicest part of the country  is like a Ghetto part of our cities . So I can't imagine the places I will be  going to.  It is very humbling to be here.  The nice thing is everything here is crazy cheap! Garments cost like 15 cents a pair, if that gives you a clear picture. It is very dangerous though a lot of people steal and try to rob you there are guards that patrol and are always with us and follow us when we go to the temple or certain buildings, just to make sure we are protected.   So we have body guards. They also guard the CCM and make sure no one that doesn't belong gets into the building.   Most people don't mess with Elders especially Gringos because they know were American and that we are involved with the Lord.  They are very superstitious. Its quit incredible how fast your testimony grows while you are out here and learning. I have been personally been praying to receive  greater love for my mission and for people.   I want to have a greater desire to want to teach them, help them and give them charity.  I can already see it taking place.  We have had many devotionals including tonight,  a Seventy will be speaking.   In these meetings a lot of the hispanos will get up and give their opinion or testimony and I cannot tell you how impressed I am with them.  They are very strong in the gospel and have a great knowledge of it.   My roommates are all hispanos.  They study diligently and hard.  I  remember in one of my meetings just listening to them (in Spanish) bearing their testimony or just simply saying what they know, or their thoughts on something, and how I just had a deep respect and love for these people because of how much they truly love their Father.   I have also been praying for me to gain the gift of tongues and to be able to learn and communicate well in Spanish and I cannot tell you how much I am being  blessed with that and pray that I will continue to be blessed with that.  From day 1 I knew nothing and was so lost but by day 3 I could figure out what they were saying to me, and progressively with a lot of patience and hard work I'm starting to get it.  It's still hard and I have a lot to learn but I know that If I keep trying and praying I will be as fluent as you can be and that excites me. I won't be able to send out letters this week cause I don't have paper or envelops or stamps for that matter.   I'll have to do it next week sorry about that guys. Send me peoples email who want me to email them I only get a hour on Tuesdays which is my P Day so I'll try to type as  fast as I can. Also send me addresses for those  who wants a letter.  I got to go to the temple which was awesome.   It's really small but I really like it for some reason. They took my electronics because they don't want people to steal them,  sad but that's what they do here.   I can't send pictures.  They have taken some.  I'll see if they will send some to me and I'll give them to you. Or ask for my camera for little bit. We get to go on field trips every two weeks.   We get to go to Wal-Mart next week.  It's sad when that's what excites you but everyone is excited.  Send me emails and address and I'll try to write as much as I can.  I got to go they're ripping me off the computer.

I love you all and I love this church and gospel  en nuestro Padre Celestial.  I'll talk to you what seems to me real soon. I miss you (but I'm not homesick) which is good . I'll write you soon with even more things.

Love Elder Toma

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Hunter leaves on his mission September 17. . . AND 18, 2013

Elder Toma has officially left on his two year mission to the Guatemala City Central Mission.  As he has not been able to formally write to us yet, we will fill in the details of his departure.  From here on, we will let him tell his mission story through the letters and emails he sends.

Hunter was set apart by President Jon Dionne, stake president of the Centreville Virginia stake on Monday, September 16.  On Tuesday, after finishing packing and spending time with mom and dad, we loaded up Braden and Conner and took Hunter to the Dulles International airport to drop him off.  Everything went incredibly smooth!  After lots of hugs and some tears we said our final goodbyes and sent him through security.  He was ready to go!  His flight schedule would take him to Los Angeles where he would have a three hour layover and catch a midnight flight to Guatemala.

Jennifer and I dropped Braden and Conner off at home and went to a school open house.  When we returned, Braden informed us that Hunter had called twice.  He flight had been delayed due to mechanical problems with the plane and he was scheduled to depart now at 9:00 pm (we had dropped him off at 4:30 for a 6:30 departure).  At 10:00 pm, we received a call from Hunter.  His flight had been so delayed that he would not make his connection in LA.  He had no choice but to book for the next day.  He needed me to come and get him.  I went and picked up a disheartened and disappointed elder! Having to come back home seemed rather anti-climatic!  And to add insult to injury, Braden had already pulled out all of Hunter's clothing and made piles of what he was going to adopt.  He had also moved into Hunter's room and was sleeping when Hunter got home.  Poor Hunter had to realize that there hadn't been much mourning time before his brothers assumed his things!

The next morning we woke up early and took Hunter back to the airport for an 8:30 departure to LA.  He was scheduled to arrive at 1:30 pm and then would have a 10 1/2 hour lay over!  Luckily we were able to call upon Aunt Faye and Uncle Bob in LA who came to the rescue.  The arranged to pick up Hunter and take him home to care for him, give him a place to rest and feed him well while he waited.  They dropped him back off at the airport later that night and at midnight, Hunter was on his flight to Guatemala.  He arrived approximately 5:30 am.

 We only could hope that the Guatemalan MTC was aware that one more lone elder was making his way and would arrive a day late.  We hoped they would be there to find the little lost sheep!!  I sent an email to the MTC asking for them to confirm his arrival.  Later today, we received this email communication.  Note:  I signed the email, Devin Toma - Father.  Notice that he addressed it to "Sister Toma," wise man!!!


Dear Sister Toma,

Elder Toma arrived this morning on schedule. I just spoke briefly with him and he is tired. But that's normal for the overnight flight. After a good night's sleep he will be fine. 

He should be able to send you a short email today.

Sincerely,


President Nicolaysen


This evening we received the following email from Elder Toma:

Hey Family,
They're only letting me do a quick email to you to let you know I made it to the MTC safely and that I will be able to send another email Tuesday I guess that is what my P Day is.  I have got quite a bit to tell you already having adventures down here. I'll let you know soon. Hope you guys are doing well. I'm extremely tired didn't sleep at all. I just went right to work and surprised everyone because I have been able to do everything when they usually let people that come late have a nap, but oh well I'll have plenty of sleep at some point. Again hope everyone is doing well talk to you on Tuesday.  

Love,
Elder Toma

Monday, July 15, 2013

Hunter gets his call!

July 5, 2013

Hunter's call comes in the mail!  Jennifer was away visiting her parents in Salt Lake City.  She begged for Hunter to wait, but he was too anxious to open up that call!  We got the family all on the internet for the opening.  We had guesses and predictions from state-side to far-flung places across the globe, but no one guessed Guatemala!!  There was a loud cheer.  Heather, Dustin and their family had lived in Guatemala city for two years!  Hunter enters the Guatemalan MTC on September 18th, a mere 9 weeks to get him ready. . . and to get mom and dad ready to let their boy go!

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