Monday, July 2, 2018

Spiritual Time-Outs

WOW WOW WOW. What a week. It has been the longest and shortest week of my LIFE. Hermana Hernandez and I were talking about how it felt like we had been companions for like a month...but it had only been like five days. But it also went super fast because now I only have two weeks left which is surreal. I still feel like it's forever, in a good way. There is still PLENTY of time to find, teach and baptize.

On Tuesday, my comp and Hermana Peters' comp had to go to Riverside for their appointments so Hermana Peters and I had a mini exchange and we saw so many miracles! We were able to find four new investigators, went seeking for three hours, and found three potenciales. IT WAS AWESOME. One lady we found, her name is Mayra and she is so precious! She is from Guatemala and has so much fe aunque she has had SO MANY TRAILS. SO MANY. It was incredible...she told us her whole life story and was doing it with a smile on her face....which on my face my jaw was dropped because this lady has SERIOUSLY HAD A CRAZY LIFE.

With the other three we found, Jose is super elect. He said that the message of the Restoration just made SO MUCH SENSE to him. He is so excited to read the Book of Mormon!!! When I asked him if he had ever wondered why there are so many churches if we all believe in the same God, he was like..."YES!!!" However, the other two family members broke my heart. It was his sobrino y la hija de su sobrino [nephew and daughter of his nephew]. I went to give a copy of the Book of Mormon to Ana and she flat out shook her head at me. She refused to take it, and that broke my heart like no other rejection. Like, people reject us in the streets all the time...but I have never had someone reject me after them letting me in to teach them about the Restoration. They are very very set in their beliefs....but they said we can come back? So we will see what happens with those two.

We had a lesson with our investigator Guillermo and he went to la clase del Libro de Mormon con nosotras el viernes! He had LOTS of questions...and it turns out that he knows nothing about the Bible. He didn't even know who the Jews were when we were reading in 1 Nephi 1. So we have made plans in how we are going to adjust our teaching to meet his needs.

Multi last I couldn't even begin. I had two trainings, and I think they went pretty well. We all gave our outgoing testimonies...all NINE OF US. Just from two zones. Got some crying out of my system so that was good. I wish I could just write a whole email on everything that happened that day buuuuuuuuut, no va a ser posible [that's not going to be possible].

On Friday I had my exchange with Hermana Chase and she is SO MUCH FUN. I love that girl! We were able to find a family together so that was awesome!!!

Saturday was super cool. During planning, we felt inspired to set a goal of finding someone who would come to church....and the first potential we tried by, Victoria, straight up told us she was going to come to Church on Sunday. Like.....WHAT??? Okay, so she didn't end up coming but it was still really cool to see how fast Heavenly Father answered our prayers. She has a TON of potential and we are going to stop by and teach her this week!!

Then, we decided to go try Eloisa...and they didn't answer the door. So we decided to walk to another potential that lived a couple of streets away. We both felt prompted to knock on the door of this little house, and as we were walking towards it, we realized it was on the same property as Eloisa. There was a woman outside, who was 92 years old AND ELOISA'S MOTHER. She was sitting outside of her other daughter's house (the one we were going to knock on) and so we also met Luz. She said she would come over and join us in the other house. Well, Eloisa ran away from us....literally...when the abuelita [grandma] let us in the garage door. So we decided to go back and try Luz and she let us in!!! She just wants guidance for her two daughters and we had an awesome lesson with her! We can't wait to see her again today :)

Elder Cousineau said this yesterday, "In an apostasy, God puts His people in a spiritual time-out." I am so grateful to help people come out of their state of apostasy and find LIGHT, PEACE AND JOY. I am so excited to soak up every minute of my last two weeks here in the field. There really is no place I'd rather be.

Love y'all!!

Hermana Tonini

P.S. My parents came and toured the mission and I about died. I was going to send a picture but I couldn't decide between all of them.


My fav little future misionera

My two favorite things are my truck and Hermana Chase

My cutie pie companion

Sunday, July 1, 2018

From the Mission Blog: Learning together to center our lives on Christ and walk with God!

The following is an excerpt from the California Riverside Mission blog:

Our past two weeks have been filled with interviews and multi-zone conferences. As Sister Hammon and I concluded the last multi-zone conference (MZC) on Friday and were driving home, we just looked each other and said, “What an incredible week at multi-zone conferences.” 

The spirit was strong in each of them; the music was spectacular; and participation was outstanding; and the tears were plentiful. We were amazed with the trainings the zone leaders, sister training leaders, and outgoing missionaries gave. It was a huge learning experience to know our Mission is in good hands, and the outgoing are leaving an enormous legacy for all of us to follow and emulate. President Norman and President Hansen gave highly inspirational messages about loving God with all of our hearts.

Moreno Valley Zone
The conference was replete with incredible diverse topics. Some of them were taught at every MZC, and others were taught during specific MZCs by specific zone and sister training leaders and outgoing missionaries.

“Sacrifice vs. Consecration and Sanctification”
“Setting up, following up, and assessing goals”
“Preach My Gospel: following patterns”
“Adjusting to Missionary Life”
“We make Christ our Center by loving Him with all our hearts”
“Enduring to the end by Walking with God”
“Disciples of Christ”
“Being diligent with an eye of faith”
“Finding the elect”
“Have we not reason to rejoice?”
“Urgency of the work”
“Asking inspired questions”
“Bold but not overbearing + Persistence”
“Street contacting using 2 Nephi 25:26”
“Elevated home visits”
“Increasing our access to Christ's Grace through believing in Christ”

We decided we needed to tap the outgoing missionaries one more time. There are 27 of them returning home in the July transfer, all of them former or current leaders. Everything about trainings propelled us to understand the greatness of the missionaries and of the California Riverside Mission and want to do better.

During the testimony meeting, the outgoing missionaries (all 27 of them) had great counsel for all of us and bore strong, powerful testimonies.

Menifee Zone
E. Sorenson—“You can have the spirit with you the whole time. Our desires can change through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.”
E. Eldridge—“We must remember why we are doing this. The people who we are teaching deserve the very best. These experiences will affect the rest of your life.”
E. Avei—“We must ask inspired questions. They come through studying and inspiration of the Holy Ghost.”
E. Rose—“The Gospel of Jesus Christ has brought peace and joy into my life.”
E. McCracken—“It’s not all about me. The people out there are a lot more important than we are.”
E. Steed—“The greatest gift is gaining the gift of love and understand who Christ really is.”
E. Cox—“I remembered the statement ‘If Brother Cox goes on a mission, he will never regret it.’”
E. Osberg—“My mission has been the greatest experience I have had in my life.”
E. Medearis—“I have a renewed view of the world.”
E. de Mare—“My mission has been like a ship in raging waters. I have learned things on my mission I would have never learned before.
E. Dew—“I love my mission so much. I hope to hold to the standards I have learned.”
E. Bailey—“This mission has been the biggest blessing of my life. It has been the hardest thing I have ever done.”
E. Watson—“My view has gone from watching missionaries go home to watching friends go home and now watching us go home.”
E. Holyoak—“I didn’t realize how much I loved my mission and how much I have changed. I want my mission to be the launch pad for the rest of my life.”
E. Balls—“Heavenly Father will propel us.”
Hna. Tonini—“If we say we are going to be happy in the future, you will never will be happy.”
Hna. Hern├índez—“Every second of the journey has been sacred. The biggest miracle has been me changing.”

Corona Zone
S. Wilson—“I found my testimony; I’ve laid my foundation. When you rely on the Lord and have courage to make that jump, we can learn new things.”
S. Ruggles—“How great it has been to see the growth in me. Learn to do this: Enjoy to the end!"
E. Lewis—“I am a disciple of Christ and look forward to teach others.”
S. Palmer—“Your Savior is by your side even through afflictions.”
E. Holloway—“My last half of my mission has been better than the first half because I changed my attitude.”
E. Day—“My mission has been the longest, shortest, hardest, most fun thing I have ever done.”
Hna. Harper—“I have loved every minute. My mission has offered me the most sacred moments of my life.”
E. Frisby—“I have realized many of my weaknesses have brought me to my knees. It is at these moments when I have felt Him.”
E. Hale—“There is no reason why we cannot have both feet in the mission.”
E. Tobiasson—“I have seen many miracles, and I am going to take the things I have learned to the next chapter of my life.”
What a glorious week it was! Sister Hammon and I celebrated our one-year mark this week. More on that in another blog. We love our missionaries and our mission, the California Riverside Mission!

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Mission Tour - Day 2

I will admit that as we approached the Games’ apartment tonight, I was a little apprehensive. Neither Hmo or Hma Games speak any English and none of us speak any Spanish so we would have to rely on their kids to help with the translating.  But as soon as we walked in the door, all of those feelings were discarded and we could feel the love this family has for Hna Tonini.  I was admiring the picture of the kids’ baptism (on Hna Tonini’s birthday last year) when he showed me another framed picture of his daughter, Diana with Hna Tonini.  The picture was surrounded by a huge mat on which Hna Tonini had written words of encouragement and her testimony.  It is displayed in a prominent position in their home.  He also showed me a Family Home Evening chart that Hna Tonini had given them.  On the back, she and Hna Sorenson had written (in Spanish) that we want you.  Further below, there was another sentence which read we don’t want you, we love you!  Ah, the joy of being speaking another language on your mission.  They thought it was hysterical.

Hno Games then started to tell us about his conversion experience.  He had been born a Catholic and was very happy to be Catholic.  Hno Games told us that they had been through many missionaries but it was Hna Tonini that helped them to be converted.  Because of the language difference, there was a lot of animation as he tried to communicate with us.  I am still not clear if they always knew when Hna Tonini was coming because she was always running to their door or that she simply walked very loudly.  She was persistent and determined to get them to church – even setting “traps” as he called it.  One Sunday, she and her companion came over to cook them breakfast, and then accompanied them to Church.  But the turning point was when he told the Hermanas that he would be baptized when he got a sign from God.  And he got one in the form of his son, Daniel.  Daniel had always been a shy, reserved boy (he is only ten years old).  When he heard his son pray for the first time and felt the Spirit, he knew that he had received his sign.  Now he plays with the neighbor kids and is confident enough to provide translation for us.

Hno Games then treated us to the song that he wrote for Hna Tonini.  He explained there is even a verse for Hna Sorenson whose Spanish wasn’t very good at the time.  He plugged the guitar into the amp and serenaded us.  He would stop, his daughter would translate, and then he would continue.  All of us were in tears.  He is writing another song that he will sing at Hna Tonini’s wedding (they had told her that she needs to marry a Latino).

They then invited us to join them for dinner. While the food was delicious, it was even better because of the sacrifice I am sure this family made to feed twice the normal number of people.

Afterwards, it was time for more pictures.  We took almost every possible combination of pictures with everyone there.  Hno Games even instructed me to grab another guitar and we took a picture of us playing the guitar and of us serenading my wife.  (I think my mom got it right – he didn’t want the evening to end so the more pictures we took, the longer the night lasted).

Familia Games

As it came time to go, I felt like I needed to say something.  I told them that my wife and I both served missions and that we taught and baptized a lot of people.  As we look back now, we realize though, that there were one or two families that we were specifically called to Brasil to teach.  For Hna Tonini, that family is the Games family.  I told them that we had been in the temple that morning and that the spirit that we had felt in their home tonight was just as sacred as what we had felt in the temple and how grateful we were for their hospitality, their generosity, and their love for our daughter.  We committed to see each other again in a year when they are sealed as a family in the temple.  (My sister later told me that if possible, she would like to come to their sealing as well).  It was difficult to say goodnight to our new family who just a few hours earlier, had been complete strangers.

As I reflect on the last two days, 563 miles of driving in the LA area, and countless hours of windshield time, a couple of thoughts come to mind.  First of all, touring your child’s mission WITHOUT them is so much better than doing it with them.  The people you met share their feelings for your missionary without embarrassing them and I think you can more fully see the love that the members and the companions have for your missionary.  Second, if there was a common theme of the review of Hermana Tonini’s mission by long-time members, converts, her companions, and her mission president, it would be this:  she worked.  And because she worked, she loved those around her and they loved her.  By that measure alone, her mission has been a success.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Mission Tour - Day 1

When we found out that my nephew was getting married in the Newport Beach temple, we quickly decided that we would leverage the trip to southern California to visit some of the areas and people where Hermana Tonini has served (while always maintaining to not be in the same place at the same time that she was at).  I told my wife on the flight out that I was glad that she was coming with me because I was worried that after we made introductions, I didn't know how the conversation would go with the complete strangers that we would meet.  Was I ever wrong - there was no shortage of things to talk about as we talked about Hermana Tonini and how she impacted everyone in every location where she served.

Day One started out bright and early - we were staying in Ontario (to be somewhat geographically centered for our events for the weekend) which meant we had an almost two hour drive out to Anza where our first appointment was at 8 am.  Hermana Tonini's grandma and Aunt, who had also traveled for the wedding, had accepted our invitation to come with us.

On the way to Anza, we stopped at this amazing sculpture garden exhibiting the work of Ricardo Breceda.  Here are a few of his pieces:

We had a little difficulty locating our hosts' address but fortunately, Sister Davies and Sister Moffit shortly arrived and we were greeted by Brother and Sister Boyd and the sweet aroma of breakfast.  Helping them in the kitchen was their granddaughter and Brother Moroni (his wife Nancy would join us later).  Soon, Samantha (a frequent subject on this blog) and her boyfriend Daniel joined us as well as Sister Peterson and her daughter Cheyenne.  Brother Moroni even knew of Elder Tonini who, although he never served in Anza, served in this mission a couple of years ago.   

We enjoyed a delightful visit and then went outside for pictures.  When we asked what people did who live in Anza, Brother Boyd replied, "they get away from Los Angeles."  Daniel also pointed out the horticulture projects (marijuana farms) that were in view from the Boyd's patio.  We also talked about Hermana Tonini's driving record.  Apparently she had recorded a number of "harsh incidents" on the in-vehicle monitoring system and her status had been down-graded to "yellow" in the mission office.  (Had she had any more, she would have been "blue" and would not have been able to drive the rest of her mission).  Sister Davies also told us about "the jump" that Hermana Tonini liked to take every time she came to the Boyd's.  Instead of taking the paved road, she always took the dirt road that had a pretty good change in elevation.  She took it so often that Sister Davies didn't realize that there was a paved route to the Boyd's that was much simpler!  After we said our goodbyes, we followed the Sisters and Daniel and Samantha to "the jump" before proceeding to Anza.  One of my ancestors was on the Anza expedition so it was neat to be able to see some of that history.  We were all amazed at the beautiful chapel in Anza - not bad for a small branch.  The return trip was through Idlewild and we were treated to fantastic vistas of the valley below as we descended from an elevation of 4,5000 ft.

As we made our way to Moreno Valley for our next appointment at 1, we realized that we were going to be driving right through Perris, Hermana Tonini's current area!  We decided that we would make a quick detour and go leave a note on her door.  Our quest was foiled because she lives in a gated apartment complex (thankfully!) so we had to settle for a quick selfie to prove to Hermana Tonini that we were there.

Our next appointment was at the home of Hermana Berumen and once again, as we entered the door, we were greeted with the aroma of cooking food.  This time, it was authentic Mexican food - sopas and ranchero beans.  We were joined by Hermana Sorenson (former companion from Corona) and Sister Stanley (they were on exchanges) for a delightful lunch on the back patio under this huge tree.  Next to the shade tree was a fig tree and we all enjoyed our first experience with fresh figs.  It was better than we expected and tasted nothing like fig newtons.  We posed for more pictures and fortunately ran into one more member and her family before we had to leave for our last appointment of the day - President and Sister Hammon.

Familia Berumen 
Familia Tenorio
 As we left, Aunt Sheryl commented at how attentive and polite the young women were.  They helped serve and clear the table and were delightfully engaged in the lunch conversation.

President and Sister Hammon were presiding at a zone conference in the Jurupa Stake Center.  Wow - what a beautiful building!  The building was the same design as the Lubbock Stake Center (for any of you who are familiar with that building) with a full court gym, beautiful artwork, dark hardwood throughout, and security cameras!  We arrived a few minutes after 3 but based on the lack of activity in the parking lot, we could tell the conference was not over.  We sat in the foyer and listened to the soon-to-be-departing missionaries bear their testimonies before Sister and President Hammon spoke. It wasn't hard to imagine that we were listening to Hermana Tonini bear her last testimony.  (In fact, President Hammon later told us it was too bad we had not been at the Zone Conference they had yesterday because we would have been able to hear her do just that.)  We were getting a little anxious because we were supposed to be at a wedding activity by 6:30 and it was now 4 pm.  We discussed just leaving a note but we lingered long enough that we were still there when the conference ended.  Raena and I walked into the chapel and met Hermana Harper (a companion from the Mexico MTC) and then the mission president.  I wish I could remember the exact number but he said there is a huge exodus of members from California due to the high cost of living and demanding regulations.  As a result, wards are being collapsed and even a couple of missions.  Hermana Harper told us that she had begged President Hammon to have her be companions with Hermana Tonini but he said no way.  "If I put two strong missionaries like that together, the rest of the mission would simply sit back and watch them work."  It was a very nice complement.

We walked out to the foyer and took some photos before heading to the big wedding family dinner.  As we got in the car, we agreed that meeting President and Sister Hammon and Hermana Harper in person was far superior to any note we could have written.  Twelve and half hours after we left our hotel, the weekend wedding activities began.  The original plan to visit the Games family on Friday was rescheduled for tomorrow night after the ring ceremony.

Monday, June 25, 2018


2 Comps 1 Transfer

Well, Hermana Flores got her visa for Costa Rica and we dropped her off at the mission home yesterday! So I am now companions with Hermana Hernandez because her comp was also visa waiting! Sooooooo, yeah. It has been the hardest week of my entire mission. Let's just put it that way.

And I don't want to really talk about all of it on here... so lets talk about the good shall we?

My baby did TWO baptism invites this week, and with one of them she put two on date....AND WE WERE ON EXCHANGES. I WAS SO PROUD OF HER.

Also, my favorite part was when we were talking about her leaving...and she said she didn't know what the point was for her coming to Cali for just three weeks....except to meet me. She then told me that the biggest thing she has learned from me is how to be BOLD and I almost cried because that is what I have been working on my entire mission and it was so sweet to hear that.

I had an awesome exchange with Hermana Peters. We were able to find and teach a family together! I love being an STL and going on exchanges because MIRACLES HAPPEN ON EXCHANGES. ALWAYS.

Anyways, I am going to send another email with a bunch of pictures for y'all to enjoy.

Love y'all!

Monday, June 18, 2018

Dumpster Diving

Another week? Already?

Well, we are doing better with each week. We got one more than we found last week and we have one more on date as well! We found a family, which was a miracle! We only had like fifteen minutes to seek one day and we found Luis in just that amount of time! We than went back again on Friday, picked up his daughter Denise and invited Luis to be baptized!!

I had my exit interview this week and it wrecked me. We got Krispe Creme afterwards. I'm okay...I think.

We had LOTS of adventures this week from dumpster diving to find the Hermanas' baptism programs that someone threw out, not realizing we left the mission until we saw a building that said Murrietta (I was not driving), and having to jump start the Hermanas' car because it decided to die right before leaving for church.

We did seven hours of service, so it's a miracle we even did proselyting.

Honestly, a lot more happened buuuuuuuut I can't even remember what I had for dinner last night, not to mention what happened this week. We saw miracles, we worked hard, and we put our trust in the Lord.

I am going to be a missionary forever....but when I realize that it isn't the truth, I get anxiety in my belly. I used to talk about my plans when I get home with excitement and longing and now, I just don't want to think or talk about it. All I want to do is serve. I've never been good with goodbyes. They wreck me. And saying goodbye to the mission is going to be the hardest one of my life.

BUT, I have four weeks left so I'm going to stop crying about it, get some dirt in my shoes, pound the streets and get lost in the work.

Con amor,
Hermana Tonini