Wednesday, May 25, 2016

From the OEM Blog

Yesterday we said goodbye to eight of our missionaries that have served faithfully for two years or eighteen months.

Front row: Sister Ansus, Sister and President Russell, Sister Geisler, and Sister Newsome. 
Back row: Elder Provstgaard, Elder Wells, Elder Fetzer, Elder Roller, and Elder Tonini.

The exquisite joy we feel when missionaries come in is almost  as exquisite the sorrow we feel when we have to say goodbye to missionaries. We wish them all the best!!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Mission: Accomplished

A few pictures from Elder Tonini's joyous homecoming at the (new) Minot International Airport.  We are grateful for our Church family that came and helped us welcome him home.
So his plane was a little late arriving...

Mom, Sister Hixson, Bishop Lund and President Williams

For the record, Dad got to hug him first!


Greeting not-so-little little brother

Reunited again.

With President Tyson D. Williams.  (Elder Tonini was the first missionary set apart by the then newly-called stake president)

I'm Coming Home!:)

A perk of having an iPad; I can take pictures and email!! Love y'all!

On our way to the airport

Group Picture Outside Security

With President and Sister Russell

One last picture before going our separate ways.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Two Years Are Up and I'm Headed Home

It's been over two years now.

Two years ago, a boy walked away from his family in an airport and traveled back to a place that he had called home. He had left BYU only to return to Provo to enter the MTC and begin a new chapter in his life. When he walked through those MTC doors and got his shiny new name tag with the "dork dot" on it, all he could feel was uncertainty. Two weeks flew by and the next thing this boy knew he was walking down the airport escalator towards his mission president and his wife and the assistants. He felt lost and unsure of himself. He went through some great times and some bad times. He served to the best of his abilities and sometimes he struggled to do so. This boy learned who he really is over the course of two years. Tomorrow this boy, now a young man, will be at that same airport that he came in except this time he is walking towards those doors that will lead him home to his family and his future.

This young man is me.

For the last two years I've had the glorious opportunity to serve my Savior Jesus Christ in the Oregon Eugene Mission. These last two years were the hardest two years of my life yet the most fulfilling two years ever. People say that the mission is the best two years for your life and they are totally right. I've learned a lot about myself and I've changed for the better.

A mission is something that has a lot of ups and a lot of downs. I've had some hard times. I've been in tough areas. I've had difficult companions several times on my mission, some being extremely disobedient. Thankfully I've never wrecked on my bike but biking through Oregon winters is pretty tough, especially when you are biking next to a semi in the pouring rain. Ive been out tracting and have had people yell expletives at me only because of what I was doing. I've endured countless times when people have tried to "prove" that the work I was doing was false and that I was wasting my time. I have gone from teaching a ton to being lucky to teach once a week. I've had times where I felt utterly alone and I didn't know what to do about my situation. There have been times when I felt I couldn't go any farther.

Quitting was never an option. Returning with honor was.

Despite the hardships, I've seen so many miracles and other things occur throughout my mission. I've seen people's lives change forever. I saw a baby who should've stayed in the NICU for months leave in three weeks because of a priesthood blessing. I had someone tell me that I had changed their lives forever. I've been able to serve in different service situations, for members or for the community. I've been able to watch people enter into the waters of baptism and make sacred covenants with their Father in Heaven and His Son Jesus Christ. Now those people are preparing to do more than just that. One is going to go on a mission, another is preparing to go to the temple.

Although the tough times were hard, the good times were amazing to have.

I'm grateful for the opportunity to serve a mission. Several years ago, a friend's dad asked me why I was going on a mission and not pursuing baseball or some career. I felt like I knew why but now as I approach the end of this journey, I know exactly why I've come to the Oregon Eugene Mission.

It's because I know that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God, called of Him to bring in the last dispensation of times and to restore the Church of Jesus Christ back on the earth. I know that Thomas S. Monson is the Lord's prophet on the earth and that the priesthood authority is found on the earth once more.

It's because I know that the Book of Mormon is the most correct book on earth and that a man would get nearer to God by reading what is contained within and praying to Heavenly Father for an answer.

It's because I know that my Savior lives. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He knows me inside and out. Through His suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross, He was able to overcome death and allow me to do the same. It's because of Him that my garments can be made white when I stain them with sin. I'm grateful for my older brother and my best friend Jesus Christ. I know that His Atonement is real and that through His Atonement I can do all things.

It's because I know that families can be together forever and I want everyone to have that opportunity to be sealed with their families. I wouldn't be the person I am today without my parents and my siblings. I'm so grateful for them and forh sir love and support over the last two years.

Those are just some of the few reasons why I have come on a mission.

As my mission comes to a close, I want to thank my Savior Jesus Christ for the opportunities that I have had to preach His Gospel and defend His faith. I want to thank all of you who have supported me in any way. I'm grateful for your prayers and for your love. I'm excited to come back to the real world but I'm going to miss this great work which I have been called to do.

'Till I see y'all again and signing off for the last time,

Elder Jacob Tonini

Oregon Eugene Mission
"Days Never to Be Forgotten"

Monday, May 16, 2016

One More Week!

Hey everyone,

Wow. This is possibly the last weekly email I will send as a missionary, pending on what happens that last Monday before I hop on the plane. This is super crazy, just like how this week was!

Monday was another relaxing P-Day hanging out at the church and emailing home. It was super relaxing and a lot of fun. We picked up laundry and dinner and after P-Day ended and we were about to start eating when the AP's called and informed me that my departing temple trip got moved from Wednesday in Portland to Saturday in Medford. That threw a wrench in our week haha! We got to stay in our P-Day clothes and played badminton for FHE. Nichole, our investigator who came to church, came to FHE and had fun! I did MyPlan afterwards and I got to do some planning about how I am going to go about dating and getting married! Yay!

Tuesday morning we headed over to the Senior Center and did our routine for about an hour before heading over to our first lesson with Nichole. She is a blank slate! She doesn't know too much about the Church (or anything to do with religion) so that was pretty awesome. We invited her to be baptized but she wasn't quite sure about it so we invited her to pray and read the scriptures and she said that she would do it. She is pretty awesome and we have a super awesome fellowshipper in her roommate Sienna! We got all packed up and after dinner we drove on down to Brookings for an exchange. It was a two hour drive and man it was a beautiful drive! I loved it! We got into Brookings about 10ish and once I got settled I was out for the night.

Wednesday morning we were all geared up to do three different service projects but after we missed one because of a CO2 alarm install and the other canceled we headed over to the humane society thrift store and volunteered there. Elder Bowers and I started weedwhacking some weeds and that's where the fun began! We were obviously cutting grass and a couple rolls up in a rental Mercedes Benz and parked right where we were cutting and they asked us to not cut the grass around their car... So we did the best we could but we still ended up getting grass on the car. The lady noticed us trying to get the grass off with the weedwhacker.... Ha-ha I am totally kidding. The lady did see us trying to get the grass off and came out of the thrift store and started yelling at us that it's a rental and they are responsible and blah blah blah. I understand that it's an expensive car but there wasn't any damage yet they took the thrift store's insurance information... Some people! When we got that done, I had to go shower because I was covered in grass and I was super sweaty (I'm sure that doesn't surprise anyone!). When I got cleaned up, I headed out with Elder Christiansen to do some missionary work. We attempted to contact some of their investigators but no one was home. We drove to the church so we could do an iPad check and we realized two things; we had both phones and the other Elders had the key to the church and the apartment! The Sisters unlocked the church for us and after we did the iPad check and had dinner, I did a baptismal interview for a guy named Kurt. He is so awesome. As I sat there with him, I saw how the Atonement changed his life for the better and it was pretty amazing. Needless to say, he is getting baptized! We spent the rest of our night driving back home to North Bend. We made a stop at Cape Blanco, the farthest west you can get in the continental United States. It was super cold and foggy but we made it out there!

Thursday was a blur. We did a lot of finding after the senior center but we didn't teach anyone or find anyone. The only thing that happened was the AP's stayed the night with us!

Friday we had specialized training and then we had a zone activity afterwards. We played volleyball and signed transfer journals. We went out and about contacting after dinner but it was a rough crowd. We ended up getting ready to go to the temple to end our night.

Saturday morning we left our apartment way early in the morning to get to the Roseburg transfer spot so I could go on my departing missionary temple trip! We went to the Medford temple and I got to see some of the members that I served around in Medford and Central Point. It was the highlight of the day! We also got a referral for a lady that wants to get baptized in two weeks!
President Russell, Sister Russell, Sister Newsome, Sister Ansus, Sister Geisler. Back row: Elder Wells, Elder Tonini, Elder Roller, and Elder Fetzer. Elder Provstgaard couldn't make it as he had three baptisms that day!
Sunday was good! Nothing much to report though.

That's all I got! I can't believe that I see my family next week!

Love y'all!

Elder Tonini

Oregon Eugene Mission
"Days Never to Be Forgotten"

Monday, May 9, 2016

When Did I End Up Tracting the Insane Asylum?

Hey everyone!

So this is going to be a short email. Honestly, I am getting worn out by typing out long weekly emails and with two more weeks to go, I will give you some of the highlights!

Tuesday was super fun! We had MLC up in Camp Alpine and I felt like I was going back in time! I talked to one of the senior couples that were there when I was serving in Junction City. We were able to be in our service clothes so that was super enjoyable. We did a lot of team building activities and had a super good lunch. Elder Swiderski had to shop for a new suit and so by the time we got that done and got dinner, we didn't get home until 9:40. It made for a very long night.

The only highlight from Wednesday was that Cameron from Medford messaged me on Facebook and I asked him when he was going to BYU-I. He messaged me back and told me that he was going to go on a mission instead!!!!!!!!!! I WAS SO STOKED!!!! He is going to be such a great missionary!

Friday we had my last ZTM and it was my easiest ZTM to teach! It was super fun. We had lunch with most of the zone and then I went on exchanges with Elder Davis in Coquille. He is a super humble kid and he is a super good missionary! We had a good long talk before we did anything though because he has had a super hard time with his companion.

Saturday was interesting! We exchanged back and taught a couple of lessons before we went tracting in the dorms at SWOCC. Everything was going good until door #9. The guy was unusual at first but then it went downhill fast! He offered Elder Swiderski $75,000 to $100,000 a year (plus dental) if he left me. The dude, who I barely talked to, kept calling me stupid and dropping f-bombs all in the while telling me to leave! It was funny at first but then it started getting pretty sketchy. We thought he was going to do something to us so we just ended up bailing.

Sunday was super awesome! We actually found an investigator at church so that was pretty cool. I got to skype my family and man I miss y'all!

That is all that I got!

Love y'all! Have a great week!

Elder Tonini

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mother's Day 2016!

With Elder Tonini returning in less than a month, we actually forgot that we would be able to Skype him on Mother's Day.  Once that brain cramp had cleared, we decided to go spend Mother's Day in Bismarck so he could also talk to Drew and his family.

It was a delightful visit that introduced a new catch phrase in the Tonini vocabulary - "but does it have a dental plan?"

He is also making good progress on his MyPlan program.  This week:  dating and marriage!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Living on a Prayer!

Hey everyone!

So we had a slow week lessons-wise but we were able to clear up our area book a little bit this week. We will be putting more people into it this week than we took out this last week! Monday was a pretty fun P-Day. We went bowling and the Florence and Reedsport Elders came down for that. I sometimes forget that I actually like bowling a lot! I bowled a game all by myself because the missionaries on the other lane were still going. We weren't able to do anything in the gym because they were refinishing it so we spent the rest of our time emailing in the family history center. The Reedsport Elders let Elder Swiderski take their car so he could pack for his exchange with Elder Provstgaard and on their way back, the oil pan exploded and they had to park it at a dental place and call us! Thankfully a member from Florence came and got them and Reedsport so they were able to go back to their areas. We had a pretty fun FHE playing Skip Bo and Uno. I did MyPlan afterwards and it took me a whole hour to do. I'm actually really enjoying doing the MyPlan and setting some goals for myself.

Tuesday I was with Elder Scott for our exchange and it went pretty well. We had Senior Center in the morning and it went pretty smoothly. A ukulele group from one of the Lutheran churches were there and it was a lot of fun! We visited a couple of people before sitting down with Greg. He is an internigator and I could see why he is taking forever. Although he loves to read the Book of Mormon, he is pretty firm in his faith (although he hasn't gone in years). We talked to him about how families can be together forever and the role that the Book of Mormon has in our lives. We had to make a lot of phone calls so that took up some of our day. We had dinner at KFC and afterwards I did an iPad inspection on Elder Scott's iPad. He had some super funny videos! We ended up heading down to Coquille and dropping off a box of copies of the Book of Mormon to them to end our night.

We left North Bend for Reedsport early Wednesday morning to exchange back. When I picked up Elder Swiderski, the Reedsport Elders' car was fixed so we took them back to North Bend so they could get their car. We picked up the other Elders and helped the Lopez's put up a cabinet in their laundry room. I got showered afterwards (the cabinet was super dirty) and we ended up doing our weekly planning because we had a couple of lessons cancel. We attempted to contact people but it became a clean out the area book day.

Thursday morning we went to the Senior Center and did our normal thing there! We didn't have too much happen except for correlation in the evening. Brother Leav*** went out with Elder Swiderski and I and we tried to contact Pat and talked to the Malag***'s about their upcoming move.

Friday we had training in the morning and then we had a pretty good district meeting about obedience. We had a super good discussion about that. After lunch we drove out to the golf course to see Jake for our lesson but he wasn't home. We texted him and he told us to meet him at his house. We drove over there annnndd he wasn't home. We went to contact another investigator but right as we pulled in, Jake texted us and told us he was actually home now so we drove BACK to his place and had a pretty good lesson with him. With it being Elder Swiderski's first lesson with him, he was able to be super bold and ask some bold questions. It was super good for him and we have a good plan to help him keep reading his scriptures. He said he isn't going to change but we know he will if he comes to know that Joseph Smith was a prophet! We had a lesson set up but it fell through (although the person we talked to is a music major- right in Elder Swiderski's ballpark) so we went contacting the rest of the day.

Saturday morning I messaged some of my recent converts on Facebook and then after talking to the AP's about people on date, we went and contacted one of the new investigators in our areabook. It felt like a MLC roleplay. The guy was throwing out all these different concerns and stuff and we just handled it as though it was a roleplay. We dropped him afterwards needless to say. We saw a guy named Chuck who is a regular at the Senior Center. He was super chatty but we were able to teach him about the Restoration and he was super intrigued by it. He has a lot of relatives who are pastors so it is going to be fun when they find out we are teaching him!

Sunday was fast and testimony meeting and it was pretty good! Nothing too weird was said over the pulpit. Elder Carter and I went on a mini exchange and we taught the Primary during sharing time about the Restoration! We did it after teaching a Primary class about obedience and giving a lady's car a jump. We were asked to teach with an object lesson so we did the Rubik's Cube object lesson! The kids loved it! We had a conference call after church with President to discuss the people that we have on date as a zone and then we dropped off the other Elders at a lesson. We talked to Pat and he has just fallen hard from the Gospel. He was SO solid when I first came in but he has been on a downhill slide since I have been here. We might end up dropping him because he is so busy and wasting his money on cars. On top of the fact that he is moving into Coos Bay possibly... So that stunk. We tried to contact a potential but his address didn't exist so we took laundry over to April's and then we correlated with the Sisters to end the day!

I'm super excited to be able to talk to the family this Sunday! :) It is going to be weird though, considering the fact that I will see y'all in a few weeks! I am working hard and we got MLC this week so it will be a fun week!

Love y'all! Have a good week!

Elder Tonini

Oregon Eugene Mission
"Days Never to Be Forgotten"