Monday, December 15, 2014

"Brooks! We get to play baseball today!"

Hey all!

I hope all of y'all had a great week! This was a pretty good week for me and Elder Galloway! You ready to hear about it?!

Monday marked one week without getting into a car wreck haha! We had a pretty great P-day! We played some basketball for some exercise and wrote emails before heading off to Brother Thur***'s home for dinner!

Tuesday was a bit of a slower day for us. We did a ton of walking around and trying to contact a lot of people that we had on our potential investigator list. While we were walking around, we saw a man smoking a cigarette outside of his apartment complex. We approached him and asked him if we could give him a "He is the Gift" Christmas pass-along card. He looked at us and said he only talks religion with "true Christians". Haha good one! Anyways, we were able to see a couple of people and give them an invitation to the Christmas program the Central Point stake was putting on this weekend. After dinner we did a special missionary family home evening with the Ku** family. It went really well and we were able to keep the kids attention! As the night went on, my back was getting tighter and tighter. I really need to do a better job of stretching in the morning! Anyways, as we were walking around at the end of the night, we walked past a member's house who happened to be a chiropractor. We decided to see if he could do a quick adjustment and he was more than happy to do it! Oh man I hadn't been adjusted in a long time and it felt great!

Wednesday we had a pretty great zone conference! The Gold Hill Elders came and picked us up around 7:15 in order for us to be in Grants Pass at 8 for the zone conference (we were doing a joint zone conference with the Grants zone). We got there right around eight and we were one of the first ones there! When we walked into the chapel, I noticed that the AP's had written our names on pieces of paper and taped them to the pews as to show us where we needed to sit. Since this was my first zone south of Eugene, I was curious on who was in the Grants Pass zone. As it turns out, my trainer Elder Flora is in Grants Pass and I got to talk to him and catch up! At the beginning of zone conference, we were divided from the sisters and we had an elders-only teaching segment led by President Russell. After the 25 minute segment and the vehicle report was finished, we heard from the Grants Pass stake president and he focused on faith for his talk. President Russell then taught us the life of Joseph Smith and the life lessons we can learn from the Prophet's life. We then heard from President Cropper about five different considerations that we need to take into consideration when we teach about the Book of Mormon. I really enjoyed that talk so much because we share with our investigators the Book of Mormon (obviously) and they were things that I know are important to have/teach when talking about the Book of Mormon. My favorite talk though was from President Grant, a member of the Central Point stake presidency. He quoted "The Rookie" in his talk! He mentioned how in the movie, Dennis Quaid and a teammate of his are discouraged of playing in the minors. To make a long story short, Quaid gets a pep talk and comes back to his teammate and says "Brooks! We get to play baseball today!". President Grant changed that around to say "I get to share the Gospel today!" and I loved it! :) Another thing that I really took away from this zone conference was the object lesson that President Russell did. He had some of the missionaries (including the AP's!) bite into an orange, rind and all! He related it to how although missionary work is tough and can be bitter, if we push through we can taste to sweetness of the fruit. After zone conference and dinner, we had an awesome FHE with the Shir***!

Thursday we had our weekly planning in the morning before our lesson with Jay P***, the man who called the temple to request a visit from the missionaries. We had a pretty great lesson with him. He had actually met with missionaries in the past but had to quit meeting with them because of some issues. However, he has been watching the BYU channel A TON and had been doing some studying! We shared the "He is The Gift" video and talked about building faith in Christ. We also gave him an invitation to the Christmas program and he said he would be able to come. We had a lesson set up with the other Jay we meet with but he wasn't able to meet so we shared a message with Dana. We then had stake correlation right before dinner and then ward correlation to finish up the night

Friday was sort of an unusual Friday. Because of zone conference, we did not have district meeting this week! So we went out of the apartment to try to contact some people. We knocked on a man's door but he wasn't home. However, we had recently discovered that we had his phone number under a different teaching record so we gave him a call after attempting the door approach. He answered and we asked him if he was still interested in meeting with the missionaries and he said yes! However, when we we asked him when would be a good time to come see him, he hung up....and never answered our question haha! We came back to the apartment to do an exchange with Gold Hill. I went my fellow Houstonian Elder Segrera to Gold Hill. Because of reasons unbeknownst to me, he was unable to drive so I got to drive a car for the first time since September in Philomath! Since the Gold Hill ward bordered ours, Elder Segrera planned to go see some of the members and also an investigator they received from the sisters. We tried the investigator first but he was not home so we decided to tract the street that he lived on. We gave out a couple of the "He is the Gift" pass along cards and had an awesome conversation with a man who had graduated from Texas A&M! Needless to say, we had a good conversation and we found out that he works with a couple members of the church. We finished up tracting in Central Point and contacted some members the Gold Hill Elders had not been able to meet with. We walked up to one less-actives home and he was outside and he just started shaking his head when we asked him if he had any interest in coming back to church. He said that he had "no religious feeling" and won't ever come back. We got a similar response from a "post-Mormon atheist" we saw next. We drove to Gold Hill to drop off my stuff and try to see a couple of people there. We then stopped by a members home to see if they were going to the ward Christmas party that night on our way back to Central Point. As it turns out, they were getting a ride from their non-member neighbors! We had a fantastic time at the ward party! The ward had a lovely Christmas program and music. The food was fantastic also! As people started finishing up their meals, I realized that no one was pushing a trashcan around to pick up people's trash. I grabbed Elder Segrera and we did just that! As I drove this trashcan around the gym and picked up trash, it reminded me of doing this sort of thing as an Aaronic priesthood holder and doing the same thing. After I got my picture taken with Santa, I was still helping the ward to clean when a member came over to me (Elder Segrera was over on the other side of the gym) and excitedly told me that she invited a coworker to the party and now the coworker and her family were planning on coming to church the very next Sunday! That was pretty cool to be a part of!

Saturday, after receiving a call from Elder Kleinman about our tire pressure, we went and got the tires pumped before serving food at St. Vincent DePaul's! It started off slow for us because everyone already had an assignment and Elder Segrera and I had nothing to do! However, I ended up on the line and I got to talk to some of the people as they came through the line. I was very easy to point out as a missionary and some of the people that came through got all excited and said "Hey! It's a missionary!". I thought that was pretty great haha! After cleaning up the cafeteria and the kitchen, we drove into Central Point and exchanged me back for Elder Porter. We had a couple lessons set up but they had to cancel so we ended up mowing a widowed sister's lawn before dinner. After a very chaotic dinner where a child got poked in the eye with a fork by his younger brother, we headed over to the church for the Christmas musical that the stake was putting on over the weekend. When the program started, I was once again taken back to my time in Houston and watching the combined choir consisting of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the members of the Catholic church next to the stake center join in song and love of the Savior. Although it wasn't a large choir (or crowd for that matter), I enjoyed the wonderful songs of the Savior that were sung. We had planned to do Facebook afterwards and we did just that. As many of you saw, I made a post about service and #sharethegift! However, I saw some news that saddened me as we were Facebooking. Some of you may recall my email almost two months ago when Elders Cook, Enman, Bassett and I had to call 9-1-1 because we found a recent convert named Renee having a stroke in her room at the local boarding house. Elder Cook and I saw her once in the hospital and although she was still in pretty bad shape, I had hopes that she would be able to pull through. Sadly, she did not. I saw a post from Brother Rose saying that Renee died almost a week ago as a result of her stroke. Although I had only met her a couple of times before her stroke, I admired her strength and her faith. Prior to her stroke, she had only been baptized for probably a little over a month yet had a great faith in the Savior. Although I am comforted in knowing where she is, I hope her family can find comfort and peace despite her passing. Needless to say, it was a sober way to end an uplifting day.

Sunday was a pretty good day! We arrived to the church almost an hour early because that is when our ride was supposed to get there and we are glad we did! When we got out of the member's vehicle, a sister stopped us and told us there was a man who was asking about when the next service started. As we were walking away from her, she told us the man had a pirate hat on. Being the baseball player that I am, I was assuming that it was a Pittsburgh Pirates hat. Well, I was dead wrong. The man, whose name is Sir Jeffrey, had a pirate hat on, as in Pirates of the Caribbean pirates haha! We talked to him for the forty five minutes that we had before the sacrament service. We had a great first hour and Sir Jeffrey had some questions that I was able to answer. A recently returned missionary gave her homecoming talk and a LDS newscaster spoke as well! The other two hours went really well. We talked about eternal families in Gospel Principles and then talked about how to motivate the younger generation to work! Thanks Mom and Dad for teaching me the importance of hard work haha! We tried contacting some people before dinner but nothing came of it. Dinner was pretty awesome. Elder Galloway and I were eating the Gorze's and they mentioned that they lived in Colorado for a while. I thought of the Van Leuven family and, although I thought there was no way the Gorze's would know them, I brought it up that I knew a family who lived near some flat rock (I couldn't remember the name of the town and I still don't!) and they knew the Van Leuven's! It was so cool and weird to think that Corina could have hung out with their oldest boy while she was in Colorado back in 2011 (he is good friends with Emma!). After dinner, we went to the Christmas musical with high hopes that we were going to be able to get one investigator there. Although no one showed, we did have the opportunity to speak to a non-member named Tom who was playing the viola in the small orchestra. He was invited by a sister in our ward to play in the orchestra. While we were talking to Tom, a sister in our ward came up to us and called me by name (something that usually doesn't happen unless they have fed us or I have spoken to them) and said that she was good friends with Sister Martin from our ward in Houston! Man it's so crazy how small of a world it is being a member of the Church! After the musical, we were walking back and the Couverette's stopped and picked us up. On the way to our apartment, they asked us if we wanted to go see a Christmas light show and we were all in! It was one of those light shows where they have a radio frequency and it is synchronized with the lights! It was pretty cool!

I am so grateful for the Christmas season. It brings a spirit that no other time of season can, with the exception of Easter. As the weeks pass and we come closer to Christmas, I think back to doing Advent with my family and the memories of focusing on the Savior at this time of the year. I am so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who was willing to send His Only Begotten Son down to this mortal earth to be sacrificed for me and my sins. I am grateful for the Atonement and the wonderful power and peace it brings.

I love all of you! Thank you for your support!

Merry Christmas!

Elder Tonini
Sent from my iPad

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