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. 


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 


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.


 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